Have you a son or daughter who's under 17, but is desperate to get driving as soon as possible?
Some teenagers just can not wait to get behind the wheel of a car – for some it's the idea of independence that attracts them, but for others it's almost essential if they live somewhere without a regular bus service.
Helping a teenager learn to drive as soon as possible and starting them off on the road to being a safe driver can go hand in hand. It is an unfortunate fact that drivers aged between 17 and 24 are more likely to have an accident than any other age group. If parents take an interest in their teenager's desire to start driving and supporting them through they are likely to learn the correct skills to help keep them safe.
Many centers across the country offer driving lessons for under 17 year olds. Obviously all lessons are off road – some on private industrial estates or purpose build driving centers, and some on racetracks. All should be offered by qualified driving instructors. Some offer sample driving lessons – for example as a 'driving experience', but the best ones to go for offer a course of lessons which will mimic the actual on the road driving lessons which will become possible at the age of 17. The teenager will learn how cockpit drill, how to start the car and move off, clutch control, changing gear and being able to control the car in total safety. Apart from not being on the public roads, the driving lessons should be essentially identical to the real thing, and a driving record should be provided.
Sometimes it is possible to continue with the same instructor once that magic 17th birthday is reached, sometimes you might want to look for a new instructor with a different teaching style. Whoever you decide to go with, when the day arrives, and it's time for a first proper on the road lesson, the driving record will show the standard of driving the pupil has already reached.
Having already learned basic car control in a safe environment, being on the road surrounded by traffic will not be so scary – for example, the chances of stalling at a junction are reduced, and at least the knowledge of how to restart the car and pull off properly will already be there.
If possible, driving lessons for under 17 year olds should be taken monthly. I suggest that starting too early will result in boredom, as there's only so many things you can learn and practice without being able to drive on the public road. But six or more lessons can provide that all important preparation. Driving theory should be part of the instruction which should help prepare for the real driving test, and also more importantly for teenagers to understand the basics of road signs and instructions when they do get on the road. If you've ever tried playing a board game without reading the instructions you'll know that practical driving skills are nothing unless you understand the rules of the road.
When the day comes and it's your child's first real driving lesson you will be more relaxed knowing that they already have basic car control skills. Many police forces support driving lessons for under 17 year olds, believing that they give teenagers additional training. Most accidents happen due to the inexperience and over confidence of young drivers – having these extra lessons helps develop their knowledge of how to drive and cope with hazards.
Children learn by having role models. Parents who do not drink and drive, keep to speed limits and drive carefully and conscientiously with due regard for other road users will be passing these habits onto their children. We all want to keep our children safe, and it's terrifying the first time your child drives off, unaccompanied, in their own car. By preparing them as well as we can, by giving them support and as much tuition and driving training as possible we can lesson the chances of them being involved in a serious accident.
If your child is keen to learn to drive, driving lessons for under 17 year olds as a Christmas or birthday present is a great idea to help them achieve their ambition.