CASH coughed up by speeding motorists is being used to ensure the next generation of drivers are safer on the roads.
WiseDrive – Drive for Life, a course for young drivers, is being funded with £10,000 of fees paid by motorists who have taken the option of sitting a speed awareness course run by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) as an alternative to prosecution.
The move has meant the course could go ahead this year after its future was put in doubt when organisers found it increasingly difficult to find funding.
The award-winning programme was launched 11 years ago after research found 17 to 25-year-olds were involved in 40 per cent of all crashes, even though they make up just one tenth of all licence holders.
More than 12,000 15 to 16-year-old students have already passed through the workshops, which start with a hard-hitting talk, accompanied by graphic images, which reveals the devastation and consequences crashes can have.
Other sessions include how to maintain a car and a chance to get behind the wheel and attempt manoeuvres in a cleared area with a driving instructor.
The scheme is run by Durham police and the Durham Agency Against Crime, and this year’s will run for nine days at the force’s headquarters at Aykley Heads. Ros Pluck, traffic management and casualty reduction manager for Durham and Cleveland’s joint specialist operations unit, said: “Part of the proceeds from the NDORS speed awareness courses in Durham comes back to the force to use for road safety measures and casualty reduction.
“It’s really good news we are now able to use that money to educate the drivers of tomorrow.”
This year’s event is the first to be staged since the retirement of Pc Dave Nixon, who devised and ran every WiseDrive.
His duties during the fortnight are now being carried out by road policing officers Pcs Ruth Barrett and Sam Stevens.
Each day of the programme involves a mix of practical workshops, including driving and brake reaction simulators, a seat belt sled which “crashes” at 5mph and a demonstration by firefighters of how they deal with serious or fatal crashes.
The students also take turns behind the wheel in cars provided Pass ’n’ Go driving school.
It aims to pass on education messages and warnings to students in year 11, as they will be old enough to apply for a driving licence within a year to 18 months of the course.