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Ambition to Drive training day at Kemnay Academy

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Pupils at Kemnay Academy given lessons on Road Safety

Photo of Kemnay pupils
Students feel the effect of Drunk Buster glasses and learn about staying in control from local PC Alison Durward.(Photograph by Kathryn Wylie)

Photo of Kemnay pupils
Students set for their lesson with Ali Bruce Driving School (from left) Lewis Alexander, Ali Bruce driving instructor, Caroline Crawford and Stephanie Pratt.(Photograph by Kathryn Wylie)

Photo of Kemnay pupils
Learning how to react in an emergency are (from left) Jenny Hepburn, PT Guidance, Alan Brown from DAB Plus and pupil Stephanie Barron.(Photograph by Kathryn Wylie)

Photo of Kemnay pupils
Students are shown how difficult it is to put a friend in the recovery position when wearing Drunk Buster goggles, with help from PC Alison Durward.(Photograph by Kathryn Wylie)

Photo of Kemnay pupils
Auto Sorceror mechanic Lee Radford explains basic car maintenance and tips on buying a second hand car.(Photograph by Kathryn Wylie)

Photo of Kemnay pupils
Qualified driver and sixth year pupil Lewis Alexander takes a refresher lesson with instructor Ali Bruce.(Photograph by Kathryn Wylie)

Sixth year pupils at Kemnay Academy have been learning about the need for common sense and safety once they take to the roads as qualified young drivers. Training workshops were held at the academy taking over 50 pupils through different workshops designed to emphasise the importance of being responsible on the roads.

This is the first time the Ambition to Drive event has been held at Kemnay Academy and it was fully funded by the Garioch and North Marr Community Safety Group.

Principal guidance teacher, Jenny Hepburn explained the school has been hit by the gap in road safety education in Aberdeenshire since the formation of Police Scotland. While sessions like these used to be run by Grampian Police, when the move to Police Scotland came it then fell to local authorities to offer road safety education. She said:

"Education about road safety is no longer a police priority, it now falls to us to offer this. It is still really valuable to make sure our kids at our school have the benefit of the Ambition to Drive training days. This has been a joint effort between the school and DAB Plus, and we're also really pleased to have police liaison officer Alison Durwood on board too."

Starting the day with a hard hitting road safety film, pupils were then split into four groups to rotate through sessions on emergency first aid, vehicle purchase and maintenance, on-road lessons with local driving instructors and testing sessions using beer goggles and a brake reaction tester.

Commenting on the event, ex-police inspector and now training and development manager with DAB Plus, Alan Brown said:

"This project has been very well received by schools already. 17 to 25 year olds feature in around 20 per cent of collisions nationally; locally this has been mirrored historically and whilst more recently this has improved, we cannot be complacent - they still feature highly.

"Driving is a skill for life, and only by learning and driving safely, can that life be a long, enjoyable one. I am delighted that Kemnay Academy have approached us and with generous support from the Garioch and North Marr Community Safety Group and local driving schools, allowed us to deliver a very valuable session on what is in reality, a life skill."

A serious message was put across to the group in a fun way but using a set of Drunk Buster goggles which are set to simulate being just over the drink drive limit. School liaison officer, PC Alison Durward showed the group the effects of alcohol on everyday tasks and urged the students to think about how this would then affect them as a driver or pedestrian.

Alan spent time showing students the basic first aid steps which can make the difference between life and death as other groups tested their reactions and stopping times using a brake reactor test.

Meanwhile Lee Radford from Auto Sorcerer in Ellon, gave advice on what to consider when buying a car as well as maintenance tips to keep their cars safe and ready for winter driving.

General manager of DAB Plus, Rachel Milne was delighted with the training morning:

"The local driving instructors have also been absolutely amazing in giving up their time for nothing. "It's really made the whole day possible."

Qualified young driver Lewis Alexander, agreed:

"It was good to have another lesson with an instructor and go over the bad habits I knew I had gotten."

Student feedback agreed that the opening film was extremely hard hitting and realistic, and the other exercises throughout the day were real eye openers. Current learner driver, Caroline Crawford agreed that the morning had been really worthwhile now that they're all at the right age for actually learning to drive.

Alan Brown went on to say:

"We have sadly continued to see fatalities on the North-east roads. While this is not always their fault, we can still try to give young people one or two things to think about which could change things. The shocking film showed all the different aspects and effects caused by a few minutes of inattention on the roads It emphasises that no matter what the cause of the distraction, too often the consequences can be the same."

DAB Plus and Alan Brown in particular have been delighted with the impact of the events so far:

"Road safety doesn't just fall with the driving instructors, or the police or DAB Plus. It has to be a partnership, but the person taking the biggest responsibility has to be the driver."

Councillor Ron McKail, Chairman of the Garioch & North Marr Community Safety Group said:

"It is absolutely vital that youngsters who are learning to drive are fully aware of the dangers involved and the importance of behaving responsibly on the road."

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