Road safety message is delivered to pupils at Borders schools

Chris Stark, peebles community firefighter discusses some of the damage a road accident has on a vehicle to 6th year pupil Alistair Hamilton when the Driving into the Future was at Hawick High School on monday.
Chris Stark, peebles community firefighter discusses some of the damage a road accident has on a vehicle to 6th year pupil Alistair Hamilton when the Driving into the Future was at Hawick High School on monday.

A SERIES of events is being held at secondary school across the Borders this week in a bid to raise pupils’ awareness of the dangers they face as new drivers, writes Andrew Keddie.

The pro-active Driving in the Future initiative has been organised by Scottish Borders Council, with input from the police, other emergency services, local garages and the head injury trust Momentum.

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It is underpinned by stark statistics which show that drivers aged 17-24 represent about 10 per cent of all Borders licence holders, but are involved in 18 per cent of fatal and serious injury road accidents.

In almost two thirds of these incidents, the young driver is the primary cause of the crash and in 40 per cent of cases no other road user is involved.

The police assess that loss of control by a young driver on a bend on a rural road is the main reason for such accidents, while in many instances, the injured passengers are young people of the same age. The initiative, which has taken place at Hawick, Earlston, Peebles and Kelso this week, has covered a range of issues including drink driving, speeding, damage to people and cars, basic driving skills and a rudimentary understanding of vehicle maintenance.

Students have been able to view the wreck of a written-off car and watch a live theatre performance telling the story a group of school leavers and the effect of crippling injuries to one friend cause by another’s poor driving.

“We need to ensure our young drivers are equipped with the right information to help them make safe decisions as drivers now and in the future,” said Councillor Jim Fullarton, SBC’s executive member for roads and transport.”

Meanwhile the importance of road safety and sustainable travel was promoted to younger children last week at a conference of primary pupils who represent their schools as junior road safety officers (JRS0s).

Each primary appoints two JRSOs and the lively event in the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels, introduced them to some of the incentives they can run in their own schools, such as the Green Feet Forward scheme which rewards classes who travel to school in the most sustainable manner.

The delegates were also given updates on a range of safety issues and an understanding of their key roles and responsibilities.

Scottish Borders Council’s school travel co-ordinator, Karen McGrath, told TheSouthern: “We were bowled over by the level of enthusiasm shown by this year’s JRSOs, who have opted to be responsible for promoting road safety. We are convinced they will be successful.”

An against-the-clock safety quiz was won by Kirkhope Primary from Ettrickbridge.