A GROUP of pupils from Ellon Academy are getting a taster of what it’s like to get behind the wheel, in a bid to learn what it takes to be a safe driver before they are old enough to take to the road for themselves.
The pupils are taking part in ‘Momentum’ - a training programme supported by Youth Scotland, which aims to harness young people’s enthusiasm for cars as a means of training them how to be responsible road users.
The project has been part funded by Formartine Community Planning Group, as well as from Aberdeenshire Council’s Community Safety budget. Running over a minimum of 30 hours, the programme introduces young people to the issues which surround driving and vehicle ownership, including the costs of ownership alongside the importance of vehicle care and maintenance. Pupils even have the opportunity to get behind the wheel and drive off the road, under the supervision of an instructor.
However, despite the support received from the local authority and local businesses, Youth Scotland Area Co-ordinator Mary Cochrane is urging others to get behind the scheme to help fund future programmes which can reach out to more young people. “We’ve had help from Derek McHardy of the County Garage, who is teaching the pupils about basic mechanics, while Williamson’s Scrapyard in Peterhead has also helped out providing boiler suits and safety equipment. Nevertheless, to run the course again before the summer, we need to be able to secure additional support.”
Pupils were unanimous that the course to date had been both enjoyable and informative.
“One of the tasks was to complete a questionnaire on hazard perception - it was a lot harder than I thought it would be”, said Stefan Yule, one of the pupils taking part. “Learning about hazards makes you more aware of what’s going to come up in the future”, said Lisa Gauld. Fellow pupil Lisa Dow agreed, saying “We’ve learned that younger drivers are more prone to taking risks, and we’re now more aware of what those risks are.”
“We’ve also been talking about the impact of penalty points on young drivers”, said Mary. “By getting six points, perhaps because of a couple of bald tyres, that’s enough to force you to resit your test with all the costs that entails.”