The UK’s largest pre-17 driving school is celebrating its 10th year having delivered its 750,000th lesson.
Young Driver was launched in 2009 with the aim of creating a safer next generation of young drivers. With a shockingly high accident rate for newly qualified drivers behind the wheel, the scheme was developed on the back of Scandinavian research which showed pre-17 driver education could reduce accident rates by 40 per cent.
Young Driver now operates at more than 70 sites across the UK, offering young people aged 10 and above the chance to get behind the wheel of a dual controlled Vauxhall Corsa with a fully qualified driving instructor. Realistic road systems are set up at each venue to allow drivers to experience everything from roundabouts, traffic lights and junctions to special areas to practice manoeuvres such as parking and steering.
Over a quarter of the lessons delivered (27 per cent) are to those aged 16 and over, as they gain valuable experience ahead of getting on the road for real. More than two thirds of participants (69 per cent) have two or more lessons as they prepare to gain their provisional licence, with one in 10 (10 per cent) having more than five in the year leading up to their 17th birthday.
Lily McGhee, 12, from Hedge End near Southampton, was the recipient of the 750,000th lesson at Young Driver’s Newbury Showground venue, during her third lesson. She said: “My dad gave me a voucher for a Young Driver lesson as a Christmas present last year and I did my first lesson when I was 11 years old. Being able to learn to drive at my age is really cool and it’s been fun getting up to 40mph. I love it as I’m the only one of my friends who has had lessons, although they all want to have them now too. I was really nervous at first but the lessons have helped build my confidence and have given me a head start for when I’m able to drive on the road.
Lily’s dad Brad Eynon added: “I think the Young Driver lessons are fantastic. It’s so unique for kids of their age to have the opportunity to get a head start on learning a key life skill like this. Just seeing Lily’s confidence grow and her beaming smile after each lesson makes it so worthwhile.”
Sue Waterfield, Young Driver’s head of marketing, said: “When we launched Young Driver we wanted to create a revolution in terms of learning to drive. It was our feeling that the learning to drive journey was too brief and obviously insufficient, given the high accident rate for new drivers. Our research shows extending the time period over which youngsters learn creates safer drivers. Scientifically, it is helping to create neural pathways in the brain to help the mechanical elements of driving become more automatic, which then allows more headspace to consider the wider dangers and risks when on the road. We’re delighted to have delivered 750,000 lessons and we know that we’ve helped many of our drivers keep safe in those first few dangerous years behind the wheel.”