Young drivers body swerve free advance training

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The uptake of a scheme to help young Borderers become better drivers has been described as “very disappointing”.

Launched in April and underwritten to the tune of £48,000 by Scottish Borders Council, the initiative offers free advanced lessons to 17-25-year-olds.

Not only are participants able to reclaim the full £139 cost of the course, they also get a free health check for their car and a demonstration drive at former British Touring Car ace John Cleland’s Galashiels garage.

The programme, devised and approved by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, anticipated that 400 young people would take part over two years.

But last week’s meeting of the Police, Fire Service and Safer Communities Board heard that just 33 youngsters had so far participated.

And Chief Inspector John Scott said that, based on current expressions of interest, only 49 young motorists would complete the course by the end of the year.

“This is certainly not the uptake we hoped for,” he added.

Board chairman Councillor Donald Moffat said: “This is very disappointing and I urge my fellow councillors to vigorously promote the scheme, especially through their community councils.”

CI Scott said he had been in discussions to see if some of the budgeted amount could be diverted to offer similar advanced training to Borders motorcyclists.

Details of the advance driving course are available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/skillsforlife