Young Driver have been teaching 10-17 year olds driving skills for a while and they’re now able to offer driving experiences to children aged 5-10 years old in their new two-seater Firefly electric cars. The driving experience is available in nine locations across the UK. We were offered the chance to try the Young Driver experience and Mr Six (6 years old) was eager to get behind the wheel.
We arrive at Young Driver on the top floor of the car park at Brent Cross Shopping Centre in London. The set-up is simple and the road is made up of a series of cones and road signs. The experience begins in the Firefly with around 5 minutes with a driving instructor. Mr Six can’t wait and is eager to get started. He bounces over to the car and gets behind the wheel. The driving instructor is patient and thorough and he explains the pedals and the safety features of the car (it has a dead switch to stop the car immediately if necessary).
After a few circuits the instructor is happy that he is safe and it is time to swap with me! The second part of the driving experience is time in the car with a parent or another adult like a grandparent or carer. I climb into the Firefly and the instructor runs through how the dead switch operates (just in case). Then we’re off. The car jolts as Mr Six goes heavy on the accelerator and quickly lifts off the pedal. He then gets the pressure right and we glide along. The cars don’t travel fast and are limited to a maximum of 10mph. Mr Six explains what he’s learnt. He tells me that he has to feed the steering wheel through his hands to turn and look carefully at the road signs.The steering is quite heavy for a 6 year old which means he has good control of the car but he does need some help to fully turn the wheel at the roundabout and I do use the dead switch… twice! As the responsible adult I have to pay attention, keep the steering in check and watch for the other Young Drivers out on the course. Mr Six has mastered the basics but he’s no chauffeur. When our 20 minutes is up Mr Six parks the Firefly and there is a terrifying and embarrassing moment when the driving instructor has to jump out of the way before Mr Six drives into his shins. Then the keys are out of the ignition and I can breath again. In the short lesson Mr Six has experienced steering, accelerating, negotiating a roundabout, how to approach a give way sign, feeding the steering wheel and not crossing arms, leaving space between himself and the car in front. The 20 minute driving experience is just enough time to keep the attention of 5-10 year olds. I didn’t find it relaxing but it was enjoyable and Mr Six gained lots from the experience, including his own Young Driver driving licence. Now Mr Six has had a go he definitely wants to do it all over again!
A 20 minute lesson in a Firefly electric car is £19.95 and is available across a number of venues in the UK.
For more information on Young Driver go to youngdriver.eu.
Disclosure: We received a free Young Drivers experience in exchange for an honest review. Images, words and opinions are all my own.