FREDDIE WILSON, FROM STROUD, TOOK A 60 MINUTE YOUNG DRIVER LESSON. THIS IS WHAT HE THOUGHT:
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.youngdriver.eu
Freddie Wilson behind the wheel with driving instructor Tony Cook