THE first young drivers to pass the Scottish Borders Council’s sponsored advanced driver course have been queuing up to praise the innovative scheme and encourage others to sign up.

Up to 400 drivers, aged between 17 and 25, from the Borders are eligible to take the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ Skill for Life course for free thanks to council funding of £48,000.

The course aims to cut the number of serious injuries and deaths on our roads.

Among the first young drivers to sit and pass the course – which is supported by former British Touring Car champion John Cleland – was 17-year-old Callum Merritt of Kelso.

Callum told us: “I have seen a great improvement in my driving due to the training. I want to join the police so this is a first step to helping me achieve that.” Sitting the IAM advanced driver course usually costs £139, but council backing means it is free of charge.

And the benefits also include potentially cheaper car insurance as well as free RAC roadside and recovery assistance for 12 months.

Alasdair Barry from Clovenfords also passed the test. The 18-year-old said: “The course has helped to reduce my car insurance, so it means I can afford to get a Volkswagen Golf which I have wanted for a while.

“I have had friends who got themselves in trouble with the police due to their driving and I think this course would be useful for them.” Fellow advanced driving success Amanda Lindley, 18, from Peebles added: “I only passed my driving test in February so the advanced driver course has given me a lot more confidence.

“My positioning on the road is better and I would recommend others to do the course.” And 17-year-old Calum Brydon-Leigh of Blainslie, who was the first young person to pass the SBC-sponsored scheme in April, added: “I had five hours tuition on all types of roads, from town centre environments to rural settings like the Moffat to Selkirk road. You are given different techniques and I am now a lot more aware.” The course is being run four more times this year on Tuesdays or Sundays, starting in September. Anyone wanting more information can find out more at or phone 0845 126 8600.