My 12 year old son is constantly talking about driving and having a car when he is old enough, so when the Young driver opportunity arose, I just knew I had to get him involved.
Young driver gives children ages 10-17 the opportunity to learn how to drive a real car. The legal driving age in the U.K. is 17 years and young driver enable younger children to prepare for when they can legally drive on the road. Of course they can’t drive on the real roads yet but Young Driver has many specially set up venues across the U.K. where they can learn. We chose Manchester Ethiad.
The lessons are not a daily event, but rather specified dates and times. When we arrived there were a fair few people there already so it does seem to be popular and gets busy.
After signing Ryan in, he was greeted by his instructor and straight away placed on the driving seat. There was literally no waiting around, he was straight in a car to get his full 60 minute experience.
Parents can travel in the back of the car with a child on a lesson. I chose not to as I had both girls with me and I thought me being there may put him off a little. They did provide a few chairs for parents to sit and watch and also sold hot drinks which is a good idea as it was freezing the day we went.
Although I was not in the car with Ryan, I was able to observe and watch what his car did. Each car has a number printed on the side so that it’s easy to spot which one your child is in.
In just the space of one hour, my son had learned how to start a car, drive a car, reverse, parallel park and much more. It seemed to be a really informative lesson and he seemed to take it all in.
He got given a progress booklet in which his instructor recorded his progress and added notes on what needs to be improved. The lessons can be a one off experience or a continuous thing just like proper lessons for adults. Ryan can now drive better than me as I have unfortunately not had a single driving lesson in my life.
There is an option to purchase a recording of your child driving. This costs £15.00 but the staff kindly did ours for free. The recording is put on a USB stick to watch/download onto a laptop or compatible television/device.
Here is a short recording from Ryan’s experience. It shows two screens, one of him in the car and one of the road in front of him.
The lessons start from £34.95 for 30 minutes. Some centres also provide lessons for much younger children aged 5-10 years in special “firefly” 2 seater cars.
Once a child has had a few lessons, they can then go onto a skills day where motorway type training can be learned.