The sooner you start, the better. And when it comes to passing your driving test, it couldn’t be more true, according to specialists at Young Driver, who help under 17s get important lessons before they can legally hit the road, even with L-plates.
As Road Safety Week kicks off Monday, new research from Young Driver shows that lessons before the age of 17 resulted in a 58 percent reduction in the number of professional driving lessons needed at 17. It also reduced the number of accidents for new drivers from one in five to less than one in 25.
Experts say the average 17-year-old learner needs 45 driving lessons to pass their exam – and with the average cost for an hour-long on-the-road lesson of around £35, that works out to over £1,500.
Baby steps: Mini Willson, now 18, started off-road driving lessons at age 11
But three-quarters (74 percent) of driving instructors surveyed said students who completed a Young Driver course needed fewer driving lessons to be safe and skilled enough to pass.
A poll of 650 former students found that at age 17, they took an average of just 19 professional classes, compared to the national average of 45.
One such example is the aptly named Mini Willson, 18, daughter of TV consumer champion and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson, who started Young Driver classes at 11am.
Mini said, ‘I just loved driving, so most years I would ask for lessons for Christmas and my birthday. When I was 17 I took my theory test and had my first lesson on the road.
“My instructor was surprised because I could already drive. When I showed him my Drive Diary, he couldn’t believe what I had already learned.’
Mini Willson, daughter of TV consumer champion and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson, started Young Driver classes at age 11
On average 20 per cent of newly qualified drivers in the UK have an accident in the first six months after passing their exam. But for former Young Driver students, that figure dropped to less than 4 percent, it said.
Pupils aged 10 to 17 learn in a dual-control Vauxhall Corsa, or similar vehicle, with a fully qualified instructor, on private property using specially created road systems.
Sue Stait, head of marketing at Young Driver, explains: ‘It makes sense that starting learning earlier – with less pressure – can help create neural pathways in the brain for the ‘mechanical’ elements of driving. Practice makes perfect. Then when it comes to 17, those ‘beginner’ driving lessons aren’t necessary – it could be more about learning to read other road users and situations, along with hazard awareness.
“That grounding can give them the basic driving skills needed to drive a car safely.”
Visit youngdriver.com or call 0333 577 9010.
End of an era at Kia
The end of an ‘old school’ era at Kia is ushered in this week.
The manufacturer is withdrawing from sales in the UK of its flagship Grand-tourer Stinger ‘muscle car’, which helped change perceptions about the Korean carmaker.
Kia pulls out of UK sales of its flagship Grand-tourer Stinger ‘muscle car’ (pictured) that helped change perceptions about the Korean carmaker
Launched in January 2017 (I was in Detroit to see it) and powered by a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine, it was Kia’s fastest accelerating car, sprinting from rest to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds.
It will be replaced by the new all-electric zero-emission EV6 GT, which is not only the £45,210 Stinger crown for fastest acceleration – rest to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds – but also the most powerful Kia production car ever .
Launched in January 2017 and powered by a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine, it was Kia’s fastest accelerating car, sprinting from rest to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds.
Starting at £62,645, its twin-engine electric powertrain produces 577 horsepower (430 kW) and first UK deliveries begin before the new year.
Need more ‘oomph’ behind the wheel of Grenadier
I may have beaten F1 star Sir Lewis Hamilton on a test drive of the upcoming new INEOS Grenadier 4×4, which rivals the Land Rover Defender (mine was a pre-production prototype).
Sir Lewis Hamilton, pictured here with INEOS boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe
But after watching the video of its fast, helter-skelter off-road run, I see I clearly need to give it a lot more oomph when I ride the last production model in the UK for the first customer deliveries in the new year.
Prices from € 55,000.
Check out this space for prices
It is a pleasure to be nominated for two categories in the prestigious annual awards of the Guild of Motoring Writers, namely the AA Campaigning for Motoring Award and the Genesis Award for Automotive Technology Journalism.
The winners will be announced at the Guild’s annual dinner at the RAC Club in Pall Mall, London, on December 1.
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