A few months ago I got an email…
“I wanted to get in touch with a review opportunity for Aoife….We offer driving lessons for 5-17 year olds…”
“Righto” I thought, I mean who lets a 6 year old drive a car?
A quick search told me that Young Driver do indeed do just that.
Young Driver initially started providing driving lessons for 10-17 year olds, in a full size car.
They then saw a gap in the market and created Firefly – a smaller, two seater, electric car suitable for 5-10 year olds.
Firefly has a top speed of 10 mph and a safety mechanism that means the car will stop if it senses a collision is imminent, this was particularly reassuring for me!
Last Saturday we trotted along to RAF Church Fenton. I love a good airfield. It’s a perfect location, to let young people loose in cars. I’ll admit, despite the low speed and inability to collide I was still a bit apprehensive. I also thought that Aoife might be a bit overwhelmed by it as she was nervous before she started “I’m not going to be able to smile when you take photos as I must concentrate”.
As she sat in the car, the instructor went over the car’s controls and the rules of the road while Aoife sported her ‘absolutely not listening’ face. There are days when I can barely get her to follow simple instruction like ‘put your shoes on’ so how was she going to drive a car?
I didn’t hold out much hope.
It turns out I didn’t need to worry about that. She was flying round the circuit doing doughnuts and hand brake turns like a boy racer within minutes.
OK, maybe she wasn’t THAT good but she was a natural. The course is simple, incorporating junctions and a roundabout. She got to grips with following the track, feeding the steering wheel and smiling for pictures as she drove past.
At one point she even managed a little sort out of her hair and pose whilst driving.
The Firefly lesson is 20 minutes long. The first five minutes take place with the instructor in the car then, for the rest of the lesson, Aoife could take her designated grown up for a drive. In this instance it was Rory – I wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t get stuck in the car!
As this was her first lesson the focus was on getting round the course and negotiating roundabouts and junctions but as the child progresses with lessons they will use the indicators, practice parallel parking and reversing into bays. Actual real life driving skills.
As someone who doesn’t drive and is a bit worried about learning, I think that these Young Driver lessons are a fantastic idea.
Teaching children driving skills while they’re still fearless will grow their confidence and so when they take their driving test at 17 they won’t be nervous or worried at all.
It actually makes perfect sense.
Aoife absolutely loved her lesson, she was chuffed to bits when she got her very own (not real) driving licence at the end! She enjoyed “going round and round the roundabout” and thinks everyone should do it because “then you get a driving license to drive real cars”.
I think I need to explain this isn’t quite true before she’s off with Rory’s car keys and loitering around the local McDonalds!
Young Driver hold lessons throughout England, Scotland and Wales. You can find your local venue and prices over at their website or follow them on Twitter @youngdriver
Aoife received one Firefly lesson in return for an honest review. Disclaimer