Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD ISSUE -

I’M 16 and mine is an Au­gust birth­day so all my friends have al­ready started to learn to drive – two of them have passed – which is an­noy­ing! I can’t wait to be­gin, so I was re­ally keen to try a Young Driver les­son at Chel­tenham Race­course.

Tony, my in­struc­tor, was very pa­tient and clear. Ex­actly the sort of per­son to give you con­fi­dence. We started off look­ing at an ipad, which had an an­i­ma­tion on it ex­plain­ing all about the clutch, ac­cel­er­a­tor and brake. You could move the clutch up and down and it showed the en­gine open­ing up to change gear. In other words, I could see what was hap­pen­ing when I pressed one of the ped­als – when you un­der­stand why you’re do­ing what you’re do­ing, it makes things much eas­ier.

Tony also took me through safety checks be­fore we moved off. There were acronyms, like DSSSM (doors, seat po­si­tion, steer­ing wheel height, seat belts and mir­ror), and POM (pre­pare, ob­serve, move) which were easy to re­mem­ber.

And then the good bit! Al­though Tony had dual ped­als, I had con­trol of the steer­ing wheel, which was great. I got to drive straight away round the track – we got up to around 20mph – round round­abouts, into park­ing ar­eas. Tony would tell me where to go to be­gin with; af­ter a bit, I was able to choose my route.

What I par­tic­u­larly liked about it was the way he gave me con­fi­dence. Even in the fact that he ex­plained how im­pa­tient other driv­ers can be on the road. Tony said he’d once had some­one knock on his win­dow, when he was teach­ing a learner, to tell him not to go so slowly. He said to me, “Never get into an ar­gu­ment, and never feel pres­surised into go­ing faster than you feel com­fort­able, even if some­one is on your tail.”

He showed me how to check to see where other cars were on the track and how to be aware of my sur­round­ings. He also started to fill in a drive di­ary for me, which de­tailed what I’d been taught in my les­son, and what I’d learn in any sub­se­quent ses­sions.

Learn­ing to drive is a re­ally big deal for me. Some of my mates live in places that are dif­fi­cult to get to other than by car, and I feel bad ask­ing my par­ents for lifts all the time. I can’t wait to get a bit of in­de­pen­dence.

And af­ter my Young Driver les­son, I feel even more keen to get go­ing! The minute I can, I’ll be ap­ply­ing for my pro­vi­sional li­cence.

The only down-side was when I got back into my mum’s car to go home. She wasn’t too im­pressed when I started to tell her I didn’t think her gear changes were quite right! For more in­for­ma­tion on Young Driver – ju­nior driv­ing lessons for 10-17-year-olds at Chel­tenham Race­course, Malvern Three Coun­ties, More­tonin-marsh Fire Ser­vice Col­lege, Stoneleigh Park and other venues - log onto www.young­

Fred­die Wil­son

Fred­die Wil­son be­hind the wheel with driv­ing in­struc­tor Tony Cook

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