HARTLEPOOL Borough Council road safety chiefs are delighted to be able to offer the EXCELerate programme to young drivers from next year.
But what exactly is the programme and what does it entail?
The programme is up and running in Durham and Durham County Council’s Driver Training Services Officer Tony Flory gave Mail reporter Dominic Shaw an insight into the course during an hour’s ‘coaching’ on the roads.
TONY Flory is extremely passionate about his job. He’s passionate about keeping young people safe on the roads.
The trained driving instructor now works with young drivers in the County Durham area as part of the EXCELerate programme, a five-stage scheme.
The free element of the scheme, which will be introduced in Hartlepool next year, is three-hours of coaching in a car for young drivers who have just passed their test.
According to Tony this coaching is integral in helping young people to understand not just what they are doing behind a wheel but why they are doing it.
I spent an hour behind the wheel of Tony’s BMW, driving around the town taking in the major routes such as the A689 and the not so major but just as hazardous roads, according to Tony, including the Bishop Cuthbert estate.
Tony admits that when young drivers pass their test the first thing they want to do is “rip up the learning sticker” and hit the road without a driving instructor breathing down their neck and analysing their every move.
The EXCELerate advanced driving school isn’t like that.
It’s a lot more informal.
Three young drivers can get in a car together, along with a trained instructor, and spend three hours on the roads taking turns behind the wheel.
The instructor doesn’t spend that time picking up on faults. Instead he manoeuvres the youngsters into talking about the key issues surrounding road safety.
The three-hour programme is free and to put it simply youngsters have absolutely nothing to lose in signing up.
As Paul Watson, Hartlepool Borough Council’s road safety manager said, it could save lives.
“There’s a difference between practicing and learning,” said Tony.
“A wise man once said you learn from your mistakes.
“You don’t, you learn from other people’s mistakes and understanding the roads is hugely important for young drivers.”
As part of the EXCELerate programme in Durham, teenagers as young as 15 begin to learn about dangers and hazards on the road.
They also get the opportunity to take part in a drive IQ test online and can learn to drive with 60 instructors in the area who have received coaching on advanced driving.
The free course comes after young drivers have passed their test and those young drivers are also urged to get involved with organisations such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
l To find out more about the EXCELerate course coming to Hartlepool call Paul Watson on (01429) 523590.