Never too young to learn (to drive)

Posted on 27/05/16 |

Over the weekend, 68 11-17 year olds in Scotland got behind the wheel of a car well before reaching legal driving age, thanks to an event sponsored by twice former British Touring Car Champion John Cleland and hosted by IAM RoadSmart (formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists).

The Borders under-17 driving day allowed young people of just 11 years upwards to drive a car, off the main road, with expert tuition. The event was supported by more than 30 volunteer instructors from local emergency services, giving each participant five hours’ driving, one-to-one.

Starting off with the basics of car control, the attendees developed their skills over the day, working up to braking and understanding safety systems, as well as a test of their handling ability, through a slow speed slalom. Modern and future technology was also a theme on the day, with a demonstration of autonomous braking.

The event was supported by Police Scotland, Scottish Fire Services, Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Borders Council, John Cleland and Henry Trotter of Charterhall Estate. Vehicles were supplied by Clelands Volvo, D.S.Dalgleish Citroen and Belmont Suzuki Selkirk.

The event was attended by Calum Kerr MP (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk), John Lamont MSP (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire), Rachael Hamilton MSP (South Scotland) and Paul Wheelhouse, SNP Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy. Kate Thomson, Assistant Chief Constable, Local Policing East, was also there on the weekend.  

16 year old Daniel Paterson, said: “I really enjoyed my driving experience. I feel I learnt a lot about vehicle control and handling and it was great to try out different make/models of cars especially the Jaguar XE. I mean what 16 year old ever gets the opportunity to say that!!!! It was a great day and a relaxing atmosphere. When telling all my mates today they are all really interested in trying this for themselves.”

John Cleland said: This event was the first of its kind in Scotland and our aim is to make this the start of many that might help make our youngsters better drivers and cut down on road accident fatalities.

“Our long-term aim would be to get this activity added to the education curriculum and train the youngsters in the enjoyment they can get from driving and cut down the dangers by making them more aware and alert behind the wheel.”

IAM RoadSmart operations director, Pat Doughty, said: “Anyone who ever doubts the value of pre-licence driver education needs to see it in action. You cannot fail to be moved by the level of skill young people develop quickly when you do the right training.

“As a charity whose mission is to make better drivers and riders, we are naturally particularly conscious of younger drivers. It's no secret that this group is overrepresented in the accident stats. We set up this event because we wanted to show future drivers how enjoyable driving can keep them safe on the roads. After just five hours many of the participants were already showing brilliant driving ability and awareness. And most importantly they had fun too."

Calum Ker SNP MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk tweeted a video of his daughter taking part in the event: “Never driven b4 today here's 14yr old daughter Eleanor driving, thanks @jclelandracing @policescotland @IAMRoadSmart.”

This event will be running again later this year. Dates to be announced.

Further information from:

IAM RoadSmart press office – 020 8996 9777 – 

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IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has 92,000 members and campaigns on road safety on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.

To find out more about IAM RoadSmart products and services visit the new website