School children aged under 17 are now being given the chance to drive as part of a scheme to make youngsters safer drivers when they eventually pass their test.
The Young Driver At School scheme lets 11 to 17-year-olds loose on a specially constructed road course that mimic public roads, including dealing with junctions, steering, negotiation roundabouts, stopping and starting at traffic lights, bay parking, reverse parking and driving in two-way traffic.
Lessons are either 30 or 60 minutes long and can be offered to schools, colleges and academies as well as groups of children (birthday party, anyone?). A half an hour lesson costs £31.99 and an hour costs £59.95. Larger groups such as schools and colleges can enjoy a discount.
Driving quizzes and theory practice can also be provided for larger groups.
Letting little Johnny out in a car when he routinely sets things on fire at home may seem like a bad idea, but research touted by Young Driver At School suggests early driving experiences can cut road accidents involving youngsters by 40 per cent.
Just in case you are worried about your child’s safety, each venue – of which there are 29 across the UK – only use dual-control cars, so the instructor can step in and stop the car at any time, just like in a driving instructor’s car.
Since the scheme launched in 2009, it has racked up more than 100,000 lessons. A number of manufacturers and organisations have lent their support, including the Institute of Advanced Motorists, disability specialist Auto Adapt, Seat and Admiral car insurance.
“Learning to drive is no different to learning a language or a musical instrument: you learn better at an earlier age,” project director Kim Stanton commented. “We have already delivered over 100,000 lessons to under-17s and our research shows that learning to drive at school age halves the likelihood of accidents and saves lives.”
A recent survey by Auto Trader magazine found 77 per cent of motorists in the UK would like to see the national curriculum make driving lessons compulsory.