A new young driver programme aims to give 11-16 year olds driving experience before they head out on to the public roads in an effort to reduce accidents and save lives.
The programme’s full title is ‘SEAT Young Driver sponsored by Admiral MultiCar’, reflecting the provision of for the driving by SEAT and financial backing from Admiral MultiCar – an approach to insurance that allows two or more cars to be covered on the same policy in an effort to reduce costs.
The Young Driver programme officially launched on 30 October 2009 at the NEC in Birmingham.
Using an NEC car parks (rather than an exhibition halls…), Young Driver aims to teach 11-16 year olds essential car craft before they are legally allowed to drive on the public road. This includes building up experience of handling the car in a variety of real life situations, but also covers understanding of safety equipment, blindspots, seating position and vital checks on and fluid levels.
Research both here and abroad suggests the high rate of accidents amongst young people is due not to age but a fundamental lack of experience. This is what the Young Driver programme hopes to redress.
Who is it for?
The Young Driver programme is open to 11-16 year olds over 1.5m in height. It costs £29 for a half hour lesson, £55 for an hour.
The sessions are taught by Approved Driving Instructors, all checked by the Criminal Records Bureau, and ‘specially trained to tutor young adults’. They will cover additional topics of particular relevance to young drivers, including peer pressure, loud music and mobile phones, as well as the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and speeding.
The sessions are available at the weekend or during school holidays. Each teenager must be accompanied by a responsible adult who must stay onsite throughout. The Young Driver programme has a converted double decker Routemaster bus serving hospitality duties to keep the adults comfortable.
What does it involve?
The sessions themselves take place in a number of different zones, with the pupils driving SEAT Ibiza superminis fitted with dual controls for safety and reassurance.
Beginning in a ‘Static’ zone, the young drivers move through Beginners’ driving and steering zones, Size-judging and Continuous circuit zones, before reaching the more real-world activities encompassed by the Road system zone, Manoeuvering zones and Braking, following and overtaking zones.
After the first lesson the pupils receive a Young Driver Drive Diary. which helps them record their progress and build on their experience. Post-session discussions with the instructors are intended to further build confidence.
Reducing the risks
With statistics including one in five drivers crashing within six months of passing their test, and 90% of traffic accidents causing death or serious injury involving at least one recently passed driver, it seems to us that every bit of experience a young driver can get is valuable. On average a young driver has just 47 hours instruction before passing their test.
That’s according to the Transport Research Laboratory’s Cohort study, which also found that one year’s driving experience reduces the accident risk for 17 year olds by 38 percent.
The Young Driver programme is expected to spread to other cities early next year, including Manchester, Edinburgh and London.
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