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Scottish Borders Council commit £48,000 to give free training to young drivers

Twenty-one-year-old Emily Redman of Melrose sits in the drivers seat while Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson looks on at the launch of the scheme on Tuesday.

Twenty-one-year-old Emily Redman of Melrose sits in the drivers seat while Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson looks on at the launch of the scheme on Tuesday.

Hundreds of young drivers from the Borders are being given the chance to improve their driving skills and make local roads safer through a council-backed scheme.

SBC has committed £48,000 to provide free advanced driver training for 17 to 25 year olds through the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ (IAM) Skill for Life programme.

It is hoped that the two-year programme will help up to 400 young drivers enhance their driving skills and cut the number of young people being killed and seriously injured on the region’s roads.

The scheme, launched on Tuesday, is supported by former British Touring Car champion John Cleland, and young motorists are encouraged to attend a driver demo day held at his car showroom in Galashiels on Sunday, March 23 between 10am and 3pm.

As well as getting a free health check for their vehicle by Clelands, youngsters will be able to get a demonstration drive and ask experts questions about the IAM course, which normally costs £139.

Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson, from Police Scotland, who is also the council’s Safer Communities team manager, said: “SBC is one of the first local authorities in Scotland to offer free sponsorship for 17 to 25 year olds through IAM’s Skill for Life programme.

“This is a great opportunity to learn skills which offer long term benefits not only to the driver but to the Borders community.

“There are far too many people killed or seriously injured on our roads and unfortunately young people account for approximately 20 to 25 per cent of these.”

He added: “We would encourage any young driver to come along to the demo day and find out more about Skill for Life and thereafter consider applying for this fantastic opportunity.”

As well as improving skills, the Skill for Life programme also provides a potential reduction in car insurance and 12 months free RAC roadside and recovery assistance.

Neil Greig, IAM’s director of policy and research, said: “With this new initiative, Scottish Borders Council are leading the country in giving new drivers the experience they need to survive the high risk early months of solo driving.”

John Cleland added: “This is an opportunity to cut road deaths, cut government costs due to road accidents and make youngsters safer and more confident drivers.”

Any 17 to 25 year old qualified driver who lives in the Borders can sign up to Skill for Life by phoning 0845 126 8600.

 

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