CASUALTIES on roads in the Borders have almost halved according to latest figures.

Statistics show there were 31 people killed or seriously injured in the region between July and October, down from 54 on the same period last year – a drop of almost 43 per cent.

And officers are putting the fall down to the Drivewise initiative which provides training to young and older drivers across the region.

At the recent Police, Fire & Rescue and Safer Communities board meeting, Chief Inspector Andy McLean said: “So far the Drivewise scheme has been well attended and a big success.

“We have been working very hard to bring the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads down and we are making progress.

“We are already seeing improvements in the figures and I think the scheme has helped play a part in that.”

The programme was set up in the Borders in 2014 and offers refresher sessions to drivers to get rid of bad habits and improve their skills.

Ch Insp McLean added: “The reason the scheme targets 17- to 25-year-olds and over 65s is because figures show that people in those age brackets are more likely to be involved in accidents.

“The feedback from the course has been phenomenal. We also often get amused by the driving instructors.

“One told me a woman he had in the car didn’t look left when she was pulling out of a junction, and when he asked why, she replied ‘my husband doesn’t do it’.”

Councillor Donald Moffat (SNP), member for Mid Berwickshire, stated he was a big supporter of the initiative and asked if there were any figures available to show the scheme itself was helping to bring the number of accidents down across the Borders.

Ch Insp McLean said: “It is very difficult to get that evidence, but around 140 people have been through the Drivewise project and all say their road skills have been improved. Those who have taken the course have not been involved in any accidents.

“On top of the scheme, we have also been carrying out roadshows to teach young people about road safety and tell them that mucking about in the passenger seat of a car can be as dangerous as mucking about in the driver’s seat.”