Gala car dealer set to role out road safety scheme

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A FORMER Borders racing driver’s project to improve road safety is to be rolled out across Scotland.

Galashiels-based car dealer John Cleland started a scheme which involved refunding young drivers the cost of passing their advanced test. So far, he has footed the £139 bill in respect of 10 motorists in this region, with a further 12 preparing for the test or waiting to start.

As well as slashing insurance premiums, getting through the advanced test is credited with cutting the risk of road accidents. Police back Mr Cleland’s work because of the higher-than-average proportion of crashes on the region’s roads that involve drivers aged under 26.

Mr Cleland, a former British Touring Car champion, now aims to extend the scheme, run in conjunction with the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), to other parts of Scotland and northern England by enlisting 12 other car dealers to follow his lead.

He is holding an open day at his showroom on January 27 to highlight his initiative, which has also attracted support from the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency.

Mr Cleland said: “We can make this a Scotland-wide initiative. I got involved with the IAM because of the totally damning figure that a road death costs more than £1million [which includes the lost economic output of the person killed]. That seems like a ridiculous amount of money.

“Seventeen-year-olds all think they are the next Ayrton Senna, but the idea behind the scheme is to make them more aware of what they are doing.

“In addition, passing the test generally means insurers will give discounts, and I think that will become more and more of a focus.

“I might get some business from the drivers when they are older, or from their parents, but for us it’s the feel-good factor.”