A couple of weeks ago Holly was invited along to experience a driving lesson with Young Driver. As the course is run literally 5 minutes from where we live we accepted not quite knowing what to expect as even though I've driven past it myself hundreds of times it's not the sort of thing I've thought about for the children.
It worked out well that Holly was off from school on half term and with Lewis away it was a nice activity for her and something to look forward to. As you can see from the photograph below she was most excited to get behind the wheel!
Young Driver offers driving lessons for 11-17 year olds and has 27 venues nationwide. The programme covers everything that you learn when driving on the road at 17 but is in a controlled and safe environment on a specially constructed road course.
When we arrived we were greeted by the friendly team and Holly was given her own 'drive diary' a personalised record to document what has been covered in the lesson and her current level of driving. If they experience a few lessons it would be an idea to keep hold of it so they can show it to their driving instructor when the time comes for on the road lessons.
Holly then met her instructor, Malcolm-who was really lovely and made Holly (and me!) feel completely at ease. They got into the car and within a few minutes off she went! Holly later told me that she was worried she'd have to listen to a really long lecture about driving and wouldn't get to do much so it's really great that they let the kids get stuck in with practical stuff straight away.
The course itself was fantastic. It's set up like a real road with two-way traffic, a roundabout, a turning/slalom area, junctions, a place for parking and reverse parking and even traffic lights! I got chatting with the area manager who I noticed made a point of talking to every single parent and spectator there and making them feel welcome. I was really impressed at how passionate he was about the company and the whole concept of young driver. He explained to me that having the lessons and the road awareness from a young age helps to teach the children to respect the road and to learn the valuable skills like clutch control, spacial awareness and technical moves such as reverse parking to properly prepare them for when they are ready to drive on a real road.
I was so proud to watch Holly driving around the course. I could see by her face how hard she was concentrating, especially as she was going through the slalom area-she didn't hit one single cone which were placed pretty close together, I was so impressed!
As a parent the thought of any of my children getting behind the wheel of a car for real absolutely terrifies me but I know that at some point in the not too distant future it's going to happen. Research shows that early driving experience cuts road accidents by 40%. With 1 in 5 young people crashing within 6 months of passing their tests, any type of experience to help reduce that risk is worth paying for.
Holly had an absolutely terrific time and it was a joy to watch her doing something a bit different. She came away desperate to do it again and as I drove away from the Young Driver site she looked at me and said:
'Two hands Mum'
What have I let myself in for!?
To find out more or to book a lesson for your 11-17 year old visit the Young Driver website.
*Holly was gifted a driving lesson by Young Driver but all thoughts are as always my own (and Holly's!)