Drive and thrive: hard-hitting messages for young motorists

Fledgling motorists from across Edinburgh are getting a hard-hitting introduction to the risks of driving at a popular road safety event this week. 

Pupils try out the seatbelt slide at Young Driver 2018
Freddie Riddle and Sulayman Ghafoor try out the seatbelt slide at Young Driver 2018

Hundreds of sixth-year pupils will once again test out crash simulators, drunk goggles and even sit behind the wheel of an electric bus as part of the Streets Ahead Edinburgh Young Driver event, which is back at the Corn Exchange for an eighth year, hosted again by Forth 1 DJ Grant Thomson.

The ever-popular event is jointly run by all partners in Streets Ahead Edinburgh, namely City of Edinburgh Council, Police Scotland, NHS Lothian, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Transport Scotland and Scottish Safety Camera Unit (East). It is supported by Digby Brown Solicitors, who are again bringing their interactive 'mock court' to the Young Driver event. Scottish Ambulance Service, British Transport Police and Child Brain Injury Trust also participate in the event. 

Returning this year to speak to the young drivers is Laura Torrance. Laura, 35, has been a wheelchair user since 1999 when she was seriously injured in a car accident at the age of 16. 

As well as meeting Laura, sixth-year pupils attending the four-day event will have the opportunity to try out a range of fun, interactive activities highlighting the dangers of driving, such as drunk goggles, a seatbelt slide and a breathalyser. 

A presentation by Police Scotland will further help drive home safety messages by using dash-cam footage of an incident involving a young driver, while Operation Close Pass will show pupils the safe distances for overtaking a cyclist on the road.

Edinburgh Trams and Lothian are both taking part in Young Driver again this year, with pupils getting the chance to sit behind the wheel of a stationary electric bus to highlight driver visibility first hand. 

Cycling group Spokes is also involved in the event, and will be highlighting its Be Bike Alert campaign which shows motorists the problems experienced on the roads by cyclists, and advises on some of the driving skills needed to avoid endangering cyclists in these situations.

Councillor Karen Doran, Vice Convener of Transport, said: "Every year our Young Driver event proves enormously popular. With fun but hard-hitting interactive activities, it's a chance to give our youngest and least experienced drivers some very effective and powerful messages about keeping themselves and others safe on our roads. 

"As a Council, our vision is for everybody to be safe from the risk of being killed or seriously injured on our roads. By reaching these young drivers in this way, we are helping them to share the roads in a safe and considerate way, emphasising that all road users need to look out for each other and take care." 

Superintendent Bob Paris of Police Scotland's Edinburgh Division said: “It is important to engage with young people who may be about to take up motoring in one form or another. My colleagues and I are pleased to support this worthwhile event and to be working closely with our partners in a multi-agency approach to promote safe driving. 

“Reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads is a key priority for Police Scotland and Edinburgh Division. We hope that giving young people an insight into the potential dangers associated with motoring along with advice and guidance on driving safely will help to reduce casualties in the future."

Simon Hammond,  Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors, said: "There are too many avoidable road traffic crashes in and around Edinburgh with the consequences sometimes proving life-changing for the survivor or their loved ones.

“What can make these more tragic is many of them involve young or newly qualified drivers.

“Our court exercise at the Edinburgh Young Drivers event may be a demo but the details are based on real cases which keenly highlight the very real after-effects of road traffic collisions.

“If this event helps save even one life, then it’s a project we at Digby Brown are proud to support.”

Martin McDonnell, from Spokes, said: "Spokes sees the Streets Ahead Edinburgh Young Driver events as a great opportunity to influence the behaviour of these young drivers when they first take to the road. With more and more people choosing to cycle, there will be more cyclists on the roads than drivers are used to. Many drivers will not be used to cycling on the roads themselves and will not be familiar with the risky situations that cyclists face and that can be avoided by considerate driving. By thinking about the people on the bikes and the people in the vehicles rather than the machines that they are riding or driving, there can be mutual respect between all road users making the roads safer for people, whatever way they choose to travel."

YOUNG DRIVERS: THE FACTS (from Road Safety Scotland):

- An average of 54 accidents a week in Scotland involve a young driver aged between 17 and 25.
- They account for ten per cent of all licence holders, yet young drivers are involved in 20 per cent of accidents.
- Sadly, those accidents lead to an average of one death and more than 70 people injured every week.

Check out Edinburgh Young Driver on Twitter @edinyoungdriver and follow the hashtag #edinyd.


"It really made me stop and think about what can happen; and how it's not just your life that can be ruined but how it affects your whole family too."  (Sixth year pupil, Craigmount High School)

"Pupils and staff found all events thought-provoking, while the interactive elements allowed for fun but at the same time a serious message was being given." (Staff member, Queensferry Community High School)


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