When your child reaches seventeen if they are interested in driving chances are they will want a licence as quickly as they can and be out on the road, leaving parents worrying about just how safe they are. Driving is a life skill, getting behind the wheel means that your actions can affect you and others around you, so it is really important to get right. Young Driver™ offer a training programme which allows children to drive and learn about road safety earlier, reducing the number of accidents on the roads.
Driving Lessons with Young Driver™
Young Driver™ offer lessons from the ages of 5-17 years old – which means that children can notch up years of safe driving experience by learning how to control a car safely – without the rush to get a licence to get out on to the road. Plus the sooner they begin the more likely they will respect and listen to the instructor, without thinking that they know it all.
Young Driver™ lessons are run from a variety of locations, and apparently you can get a really different experience depending on which one you choose to go to. This may be they have a better set-up for roundabouts or ramps for example – or maybe you would like to take advantage of one of the skills day events (for those who have had 3 or more lessons) which cover advance skills such as motorway driving.
Fireflys with Young Driver™
Depending on the age of the child will determine on which type of driving experience they can opt for. Five to ten year olds can drive a specially created range of two-seater cars called the Firefly. These feature independent suspension, disc brakes, twin electric motors and rack and pinion steering, and an adjustable driver’s seat – making them drive and handle just like real cars on the road! The other seat can be occupied by their parents or even a friend! With a top speed of 10 mph and a remote control to switch them off in an emergency. Lessons last 20 minutes which includes a 5 minute briefing/demonstration followed by 15 minutes driving on one of their realistic road systems.
YOUNG DRIVER™ Training Programme
For those over 10 years old there is the YOUNG DRIVER™ training programme which mirrors what would be learnt when driving on the road. The only difference is the children will learn to drive in a safe environment on a specially constructed road course. These are available for 30 or 60 minutes each. I think that having just a thirty minute lesson available is especially good for those first lessons to really take things in – even more so for the younger children.
The First Lesson with Young Driver™
First lessons with Young Driver™ cover starting and stopping the car, moving away, changing gears and steering. On the first lesson the children are given a booklet which explains all about the training programme and is their driving diary. Each child is treated as an individual and the lessons are tailored for them, but generally they will not receive the same instructor for reasons of child protection. I am not sure if the first instructor gelled better with our teen or that the second lesson wasn’t quite what he expected but he definitely had a preference, so it is good to know that you can request the same person.
The diary is utilised to see what they have previously learned and what they need to concentrate on next. Unlike my first driving lessons the instructors get the children moving on their first lesson (helping with the gears/clutch). They explain what they will focus on before the lesson has begun and recap previous lessons- whether that is stopping safely, checking the road, steering etc. At the end of the lesson the booklet is signed off so that the next instructor knows what they have and haven’t covered and mastered.
There’s also the option to buy a video so you can see exactly what was happening during the lesson. This is a great idea if you are leaving gaps between lessons as a great recap/reminder of what they have previously done.
My thoughts on Young Driver™ Lessons
I have to admit that I had always thought that the older someone started driving the better as it gives them a chance to mature before having the responsibility of lives in their hands. I thought that having driving lessons too young would just mean an increased risk in joy riding because these teens would know how to drive and not be able to legally get a licence. Well since our middle two sons have had lessons with Young Driver™ I have completely changed my perspective. Actually now I can see that they learn properly without the need for being in a hurry. That they have time to properly take things in and practice them.
I wouldn’t have thought twice about my children being too young to swim for example (the youngest two had lessons from 2 years and 9 months which was the youngest age they could go into the pool without a parent). Equally as dangerous (to themselves) if it wasn’t taught right. Now not only have the boys begun to see the importance of why driving a certain way is important but they’ve even pulled me up on a few things (who knew I didn’t feed the wheel through my hands when steering).
Why have More than One Young Driver™ Lesson
I can see the appeal of having one Driver™ Lesson as a gift but really to benefit fully form the training programme more lessons will be required – as it isn’t about fun (which it is) but more about how to control a car and being safe on the road. A number of lessons will not only let the children progress with this but also give them the opportunity to drive in different driving conditions – is it wet/dry, sunny or raining, for example, as well as the opportunity to drive on different courses. The option of a bigger car as well as the regular one will also make a difference on their experience.
Things learned on first Young Driver™ Lessons
Our boys did two and half 30 minute lessons each they covered (in no particular order):
- Making sure the car is safe – how to adjust mirrors, seats, steering wheel etc for their height and other pre-drive safety checks
- How to start a car
- Checking mirrors and position
- Blind spots
- Pulling away including how the clutch works and finding the bite point
- Stopping without stalling,
- Spatial awareness of the size of the car
- Changing gear
- Steering and turning
- Obstacles, junctions and roundabouts
- and driving with other traffic.
Our Boys Young Driver™ Lessons
Both boys (ages 10 who turned 11) and 15 years old both enjoyed their lessons. It was good to give them a real understanding of what driving a car is like. We were told that they would both develop differently but it was really interesting to see that the older of the two really picked up on the safety aspect quicker (more likely to be checking his mirrors as opposed to giving us a wave). They discovered that we are not perfect when driving and it isn’t like a computer game or go-kart! As they had the opportunity to drive two different types of car they also experienced how different that is for different features. For example the teen loved the turbo but was not so keen on an electronic handbrake.
Conclusions on Young Driver™ Lessons
Even after the lessons the boys have thought more about safety on the road and about how cars work, asking questions as I am driving along. Young Driver™ Lessons definitely are good to ensure that they will be the best drivers they can be when the time comes. I would definitely recommend Young Driver™ Lessons and will definitely be looking into more in the future for our children. It seems as if many children had had them as a gift – with some having extra lessons annually as they age.
I won driving lessons with Young Driver™ and had one free review lesson. All opinions are honest and my own.