Find how how to get your teen behind the wheel with Young Driver, the driving scheme for 11-17 year olds.
Ollie turns 16 next month, so next year he’ll be old enough to get his provisional licence. It’s pretty scary thinking about him being out on the road. According to Brake, the road safety charity, drivers aged 17-19 make up just 1.5% of UK licence holders, but are involved in 9% of fatal and serious crashes where they are the driver.
So when Young Driver asked if I’d like to send him along for a Young Driver driving lesson, I accepted the offer very happily. Of course, I did check with Ollie first that he wanted to try a driving lesson. But as you can imagine, he was very keen on the idea! So we headed off to the NEC at Birmingham on a sunny Saturday morning for his lesson.
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What is Young Driver?
Young Driver offer driving lessons for 11-17 year olds, at locations around the country. 1 in 5 new drivers has an accident within 6 months of passing their test (Sally puts her hand up sheepishly), and the Young Driver scheme was set up to try and do something about that statistic. As long as your child is over 10 years old and over 1.42m tall, they can get behind the wheel in a dual control car.
All Young Driver instructors are DBS checked, and they are carefully selected to make sure that they are ideally suited for teaching young people to drive. And Young Driver make sure that everything is explained in a way that is appropriate for the age of the learner driver.
Lessons are available in 30 minute and 60 minute durations, and the whole lesson is spent in the car, getting valuable experience behind the wheel. They’ll start off with the basics, and move on to dealing with junctions, reverse parking, and even roundabouts at some venues.
You can even a driving birthday party, or a lesson in a Bentley for a different kind of driving experience. Or you could even buy gift vouchers – these would definitely make a popular Christmas gift for many teens!
You can read more about their lessons on the Young Driver website.
What happens in a Young Driver Lesson?
Our email said to arrive 10 minutes before Ollie’s lesson to sign in. He was also given a Drive Diary to keep track of his progress at his driving lessons. After a short wait, the instructors came out to greet the teens and they went off to get into the cars. Ollie spent a while positioning his seat correctly and going through the controls. And then they were off!
As this lesson was for a review, I had been invited to observe the lesson from inside the car. But let’s be honest, who wants their Mom in the back seat while they are having a driving lesson? So I waited outside to take some photos and watch Ollie’s driving. You can also pay for in-car video footage of the lesson, if your teen wants to watch it back again or share the experience with friends.
For those of us waiting outside, hot drinks were provided in the Young Driver waiting room.
Ollie’s lesson took place on one of the huge car parks at the NEC in Birmingham. Roadways and slaloms had been set out using cones, and the drivers navigated their way through the course under the guidance of the instructors. Ollie seemed to be doing quite well from what I could see. He certainly looked a lot more confident than I felt when I had my first lesson!
There were around 10 cars on the course – some beginner learners and some with more experience. It was really good to see how confident the teens looked behind the wheel, thanks to the Young Driver experience.
Because there were several cars on the course, the drivers were negotiating junctions, stopping in queues, and waiting to move off. It’s all great practice for when they get out on the road.
What are the benefits of Young Driver lessons?
While Ollie was enjoying his driving lesson, I spent a little while talking to some of the other parents. I asked why they were sending their teen to Young Driver, and kept hearing the same reasons.
All of the parents I spoke to were well aware of the risks facing newly qualified drivers. The statistics are shocking, with 9% of serious and fatal accidents involve young, newly qualified drivers. We all know that our teenagers want their independence, and learning to drive is a big part of that. But the parents I spoke to really want to make sure that they are as safe as possible once they do get out on the road.
Plus, it’s a lot of fun!
You could see that written on the faces of the young drivers when they got out of the cars. Some of the teens were taking a 30 minute lesson, and left half way through Ollie’s session. But if your budget allows then 60 minutes allows them to get the most out of the experience, especially when they are first learning.
Young Driver lessons – the verdict
From my point of view, the hour seemed to go by really quickly. Before long Ollie was pulling up safely and getting out of the car. He and his instructor went over to sign him out and add his progress to his Drive Diary. When he turns 17, he’ll be able to use this to show his instructor his level of experience.
I thought Ollie’s Young Driver lesson was a really good experience. He spent nearly a full hour driving, and I could definitely see an improvement over the course of the hour. Of course, the big question is what was Ollie’s verdict?
Teens are notoriously hard to impress, and Ollie is more laid-back than most. He doesn’t get over-excited about things very easily. But he looked pretty excited when he came back to me at the end of the lesson.
Ollie said that his driving instructor was very calm and explained things to him very clearly. He felt that he’d been able to pick up the basics during this first lesson. He’d done some gear changes and got up to a reasonable speed, and only stalled a couple of times. He was also quite happy that he’d successfully driven through two cones placed just over a car’s width apart. He’d really enjoyed the hour, and then I asked him the big question.
Does he want to go back for another lesson…?
Of course he said a big Yes to that one – he loved the experience and can’t wait to go back.