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Caithness.org News Bulletins -  November 2002

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A scheme aimed at reducing accidents and deaths involving young drivers was launched on Friday 13 December 2002 at the Highland Youth Parliament's Executive Committee meeting held in Glen Urquhart High School, Drumnadrochit.

Administered by the Highland Wellbeing Alliance, the 'Pass Plus Scheme' offers cheaper insurance; improved driving skills; and more confidence to young and inexperienced drivers (aged 17-25) living within The Highland Council area. The Highland Wellbeing Alliance is the community planning partnership for Highland involving The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Northern Constabulary, NHS Highland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Communities Scotland, the Voluntary Sector and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry. The partnership also has links to a wide range of public, private and voluntary sector agencies.

Pass Plus is designed to raise driving standards and better equip new drivers to deal with the differing situations they are likely to meet after passing the driving test. Approved by the Driving Standards Agency, successful participants are awarded a Pass Plus Certificate from the DSA on completion of their course.

Ian Taylor, Deputy Registrar for The Driving Standards Agency says: "New drivers make up just 10% of licence holders but are involved in 29% of all accidents. The Pass Plus scheme is designed to help new drivers build positive driving skills once they pass their test that would otherwise take a long time to acquire. The DSA welcomes any initiative that helps promote the benefits of Pass Plus, in order to assist in reducing the number of serious accidents among new drivers.

Highland Councillor Margaret Davidson says: "This is a fantastic opportunity for young drivers in Highland to improve their driving in a variety of different ways. Often when you live in a town or in the country you don't get the chance to experience dual carriageway, or single-track roads for example. The scheme is a great way to improve your driving capabilities while being rewarded with cheaper insurance premiums."

Highland Youth Voice member, David Ridgeway of Inver by Tain says: "The Pass Plus Scheme is a great chance for new drivers to gain experience. As a Youth Voice member, I was involved in setting up the programme, and now as a new driver I think it is a fantastic opportunity."

To qualify for the scheme, applicants should live within The Highland Council Area; have passed their driving test within the last 12 months; be aged 17-25 years olds and must complete 6 sessions of the Pass Plus course.

Some of the reasons why the Highland Wellbeing Alliance is encouraging more new drivers to take part in the Pass Plus Scheme are -

* A driver aged 17-25 is six times more likely to be involved in an injury accident than a driver aged
  over 40.

* The probability of having an accident is reduced by 1/3 after only one year's driving experience.

* More than 22 drivers aged 17-25 were killed on Highland roads during 2000 and 2001.

* Newly qualified drivers who total more than six points on their licence in the first two years will have
  to go back to learning status.

As the scheme is a pilot project there are a limited number of spaces for 75 applicants. Supported by an approved number of Highland driving instructors, Pass Plus pupils will be coached on practical driving situations including: in town; out of town, at night; on dual carriageways; and on rural and single-track roads.

Young drivers, who want to apply for the Pass Plus Scheme can contact: Lynn Woodland at The Highland Council on (01463) 702053 or email: lynn.woodland@highland.gov.uk .