A new scheme is offering motorway-based lessons for youngsters aged 10 and over.
The bold move is being introduced by Young Driver, the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school. It is in response to a company-commissioned survey that reveals 20% of UK drivers are nervous about taking their car out on to Britain’s motorways.
One in five motorists say they feel more vulnerable when driving on motorways because if something goes wrong, it will go wrong very quickly. So bad are some people’s nerves about motorways that 14% actively avoid going on them if at all possible.
70 at 10
To help allay such fears, Young Driver believes that experiencing motorway driving at a younger age is part of the solution.
Its Motorway Driving Experience, available to 10-17 year olds who have already had two driving lessons with the company, allows youngsters to head out on to a full-size motorway and travel at speeds of up to 70mph.
Don’t expect to see a child hammering down the M6 though. Instead, the motorway being used is not available to the public – but is actually used to train emergency services drivers and is located at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.
Staying in control
The experience follows the same legal requirements of current learner driver motorway lessons that were introduced last year. The youngsters head out on to the motorway with a qualified ADI in a car featuring dual controls to ensure everyone remains safe at all times.
The experience not only includes 45 minutes of one-on-one driving time on the motorway but also aims to educate the pupils about correct motorway use. The season features a pre-drive 15 minute interactive presentation on how smart motorways work plus tips for staying safe when motorway driving.
Young Driver believes that introducing the skills needed to successfully navigate motorways will help deal with driver nerves in the future.
The company says the initiative is vital as “we already know that pre-17 driver education can create a safer newly qualified driver, cutting the accident rate in that all-important first six months by a half,” explains Young Driver’s Laura White.
“But given some new drivers can pass their test having never put a tyre on a motorway, it’s no wonder our major roads can be something that concerns them as new drivers and for years to come.”
Getting it wrong
While such schemes represent an opportunity for drivers to build confidence in their skills from an early age, there have been several incidents in recent years that reveal how not to introduce a child to motorway driving:
• An 11-year-old was discovered driving an HGV when pulled over by police in China. It was revealed that the child often drove the truck when his dad became too tired and wanted a nap in passenger seat.
• An eight-year-old child was captured on video driving a car at 75mph on a Romanian motorway. Encouraged by his parents, the lad manages to overtake a lorry despite barely being able to see over the top of the steering wheel.
Image © Seighean