You can’t contemplate learning to drive on the road alongside other road users until you are 17 years of age and have successfully applied for and received your provisional license. Then you can look to taking your driving lessons with an approved driving instructor. Although you can be taught by a friend or family member who is 21 years of age or over and has held a full driving license for a minimum of 3 years, it is highly recommended that you use an approved driving school instead.
More recently the option to experience “off road” driving lessons without the need for a provisional driving license from as young as 14 (depending on the individual company insurance policy) has been introduced at special facilities. These facilities afford the young drivers the chance to learn and focus on driving skills without any distractions from other road users, therefore offering a safer environment for the basic skills to be acquired before reaching the required age to drive on public roads.
These lessons are being advertised with the emphasis being on being suited to those with a slightly more nervous attitude to cars and driving and to those who would like to build confidence and obtain firm foundations that can be developed further once driving on public roads.
It is important that with these options being available from an even earlier age that our children are taught and are aware of the dangers that are all around them in respect of vehicles long before they even contemplate getting behind the wheel of car.
Most children will be used to being sat in the passenger seat of a car from a very early age, however many may find they have a misconception of their capabilities. A lot of this will be due to influences like the many computer games available to children which let them race virtual cars on screen without a care in the world.
The speeds these simulated games allow to drive at, far exceed those that have been put in place on our roads for our safety, a lot of the manoeuvring capabilities of the computer cars are more sophisticated than those of the cars we drive around in every day (unless of course you happen to be Lewis Hamilton!), stopping distances don’t even come into the equation and if they crash or fail at what they are trying to achieve, all you have to do is press the “x” button and start all over again!
With all this in mind, it would be prudent to ensure that children are taught basic road and vehicle awareness. None of us like seeing the adverts on television where the show the effects a vehicle hitting a person can have on our bodies, (which even at a speed we consider to be driving slow can be devastating) however parents should not shy away from either explaining these or allowing their children to see such footage.
Schools have long since worked with each other in teaching kids such things as the Green Cross Code which remain a vital part of their education, however since the inception of games consoles and the fact our cars are far more advanced from the day they were invented, it is more important than ever that awareness of our roads and the vehicles that use them are instilled in our children from a very early age.
My personal opinion is that these off road lessons from the age of 14 are a positive step in bridging the gap between computer simulations and obtaining the feel of the true nature of a car’s capabilities long before they are allowed to drive alongside vehicles on public roads.