Last month, 68 11-17 year olds in Scotland got behind the wheel of a car well before reaching legal driving age, thanks to an event sponsored by former British Touring Car champion John Cleland and hosted by IAM RoadSmart.

The Borders Under-17 Driving Day allowed young people from just 11 years upwards to drive a car, off the main road, with expert tuition.The event was supported by more than 30 volunteer instructors from local emergency services, giving each participant five hours’ driving, one-to-one.

Starting off with the basics of car control, the attendees developed their skills over the day, working up to braking and understanding safety systems, as well as a test of their handling ability, through a slow speed slalom.

Modern and future technology was also a theme on the day, with a demonstration of autonomous braking.The event was supported by Police Scotland, Scottish Fire Services, Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Borders Council, John Cleland and Henry Trotter of Charterhall Estate.

“I really enjoyed my driving experience,” 16 year-old Daniel Paterson said. “I feel I learnt a lot about vehicle control and handling and it was great to try out different make/models of cars, especially the Jaguar XE.I mean, what 16 year-old ever gets the opportunity to say that!!!!It was a great day and a relaxing atmosphere.When telling all my mates today they were all really interested in trying this for themselves.”

John Cleland added:“This event was the first of its kind in Scotland and our aim is to make it the start of many that might help make our youngsters better drivers and cut down on road accident fatalities.Our long-term aim would be to get this activity added to the education curriculum and train the youngsters in the enjoyment they can get from driving and cut down the dangers by making them more aware and alert behind the wheel.”