Ground breaking project by IAM RoadSmart and partners brings driving skills into the school day for under 17’s in the Borders

Posted on 25/01/17 |

IAM RoadSmart is part of a group of organisations including Police Scotland and Clelands Volvo which is helping bring driving tuition onto the timetable for under 17’s in the Scottish Borders – one of the first times pre-licence training  has been offered anywhere in the UK in a properly controlled and structured way.

The Scottish Road Safety Framework’s Strategic Partnership Board has provided a £73,000 grant to offer a series of driving courses for people in the Borders – basic driving tuition for 15 to 17-year-olds, advanced driving for 17 to 25-year-olds, and driving review sessions for over 65’s.

The programme for 15 to 17-year-olds at five schools in the Borders, which will be called Drivewise, offers ground breaking pre-driving tuition during official lesson time.

The other partners are Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Borders Council, Transport Scotland and Volvo. Clelands is the Galashiels based dealership group run by twice British Touring Car champion John Cleland.

As part of Drivewise, there will be 14 sessions in total offered to students from the nine Secondary schools taking part, at a former airfield near Greenlaw, between April and October this year. 

The under 17’s courses aim to get young drivers familiar with basic knowledge of driving and road rules through simple manoeuvring of a vehicle, and also instil in them good driving attitudes and habits.

Each session is completed within a day. Students will start off in the classroom, then be shown by an instructor the basics of manoeuvring a vehicle safely before having a try themselves in the latest Volvo cars. They will have plenty of opportunity to hone their skills and be assessed and encouraged throughout the day.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said: “IAM RoadSmart has long campaigned for road safety to be a part of the National Curriculum, and through this pioneering scheme in the Scottish Borders, it is starting to happen.

“It is crucial that the ‘safe driving is fun’ message is brought into the lives of young people at school age and encouraged as part of the school system. We believe that simply leaving young people at 17 to handle this all by themselves increases the risk tremendously to the driver and those around them.

“This is a truly ground breaking initiative, and hopefully there are some exciting times ahead for future road safety and lower risk for young people.”

IAM RoadSmart has long advocated road safety should become a part of the National Curriculum in the UK – something that is commonplace in many countries in Europe including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain and Latvia. Each of these countries have mandatory traffic education programmes.

Latvia goes even further, requiring traffic skills to be tested after the third, sixth, ninth and 12th grades with age-appropriate tests including knowing your route to school, and to understand the responsibilities as a driver or cyclist on the road.

IAM RoadSmart’s road safety manifesto points out that road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK. It says road safety education should be part of the National Curriculum and theory and hazard perception training and testing should take place within the education system (reference 1).


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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.

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