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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 16:16 GMT
Move to cut young driver crashes
A car
Drivers are taught a range of road skills during the course
An initiative has begun to try to stop young drivers being hurt or killed on Dumfries and Galloway's roads.

The local branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has secured sponsorship and funding to put 100 through their advanced motoring test.

Drivers aged between 17 and 25 will be put through their paces.

IAM chairman Alan Jones said it was all about making people safer behind the wheel and aware of the hazards on routes across the region.

Last year a total of 25 people died on Dumfries and Galloway's roads.

They are just absolutely crazy. They don't really care
Jamie Carruthers

Pc Les Kirkpatrick said it was very harrowing to deliver the bad news to families after a fatal accident.

"It is extremely traumatic - over my 20 years in the traffic department I have had to knock on many doors," he said.

"The reactions vary from absolute hysteria to just going numb.

"Disbelief is a very, very common factor - they will not believe that somebody has died."

He said it was particularly distressing when young drivers were involved.

'Worst thing'

"I think all parents worry about their children who have just passed their tests out driving cars," he said.

"The worst thing that can possibly happen is a police officer arriving at your door - particularly through the night."

The IAM chairman said it was precisely that kind of situation they hoped to make less common.

"One of the factors that is quite common with accidents - particularly with young people - is the fact that they have very limited experience," said Mr Jones.

He said they attempted to teach a controlled system of driving.

Dumfries cars
The scheme hopes to make Dumfries safer for all drivers

"We take a structured approach to deal with every hazard," he said.

"Provided they use the system conscientiously and with a degree of observation and concentration it can make between 50% and 70% less chance of having an accident.

"And any accident they do have tends to be less severe in nature."

The course sends drivers out over sessions with an expert observer along with them.

"Our experience is that between these six to eight drives we have converted someone from being a danger to themselves and other people into an advanced driver," said Mr Jones.

Gary Head, 26, who did the course last year and is now an observer for the IAM, said it taught him some valuable lessons.

"I wouldn't say necessarily I was a bad driver but when you are young you pass your test and you think your are king of the road," he said.

"Everybody's been there - using excessive speed and things.

"Certainly by going through these tests your hazard perception becomes a lot better."

'Absolutely crucial'

He said the instruction was important for an area like south west Scotland.

"I think it is absolutely crucial especially in Dumfries and Galloway with the type of road network we have got," he said.

"We have got single carriageway rural routes down here - if you make a mistake on that road it is more costly.

"We need to pass all our wealth of knowledge onto young drivers."

The course teaches a controlled system of driving

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