With pre-17 driving lessons increasing in popularity, teen expert Nicola Morgan looks at how learning to drive before 17 can have positive benefits beyond road safety.
Driving lessons for under 17s are growing in popularity, with the UK’s largest provider of driving tuition for 10 to 17 year olds delivering its 750,000th lesson late last year, giving 10,000 more lessons in 2019 than in the previous year.
The scheme, Young Driver, aims to extend the learning period, reducing the high number of accidents newly qualified drivers have when they first pass their test. But could getting youngsters behind the wheel at an earlier age also provide a valuable boost to their general self-esteem and wellbeing?
When parents were asked what worried them most about the pressures on teenagers in the modern world, one in four of the 1,000 surveyed by Young Driver (24 per cent*) said a lack of genuine self-confidence.
Research also revealed that one in five people (19 per cent) booking a Young Driver lesson said they were doing so to help improve a young person’s general confidence levels. Keen to know more about the benefits of learning to drive early beyond road safety, Young Driver asked ‘The Teenage Brain Woman’ Nicola Morgan for her insight.
Nicola Morgan, an award-winning author and international speaker who specialises in writing on adolescent development and wellbeing, said: “Extra-curricular activities, such as Young Driver, can be of huge benefit to self-confidence and mental wellbeing.
A student may be struggling at school – but extra-curricular activities can require a very different range of skills and the student can suddenly experience success. This leads to more self-confidence and an ‘I can do this’ attitude which can leak into other areas. Anything that raises confidence is likely to have a positive effect on wellbeing and mental health in general.
“When looking at what Young Driver offers in particular, a great deal of brain bandwidth is used for driving, so any worries or obsessive thoughts that have been playing out can get a break. Driving is an activity which seems very hard at first but gets easier.
We improve by practice, more than talent. Youngsters will get better as they learn and will see the improvement lesson by lesson. It also shows that adults trust young people to learn to do this really complex, important set of skills. It’s something usually seen as only acceptable for adults – because it’s difficult and dangerous – but Young Driver takes away the danger while still teaching the skills.”
Young Driver takes place at 70 private venues across the UK, although currently events are on hold due to Coronavirus. The scheme creates realistic road systems with junctions, roundabouts, traffic lights and areas to practice specific manoeuvres. Lessons are given in brand new, dual controlled Vauxhall Corsas by fully qualified instructors.
To find out more about Young Driver visit www.youngdriver.com.
Nicola Morgan is an internationally-acclaimed author and authority on teenage wellbeing often referred to as ‘The Teenage Brain Woman’. Her books include Blame My Brain, which was shortlisted for the Aventis Prize, the Teenage Guide to Stress, Teenage Guide to Friends, Positively Teenage, Life Online and Body Brilliant. In 2018, she was awarded the SLA’s prestigious award for Outstanding Contribution to Information Books.
*Research conducted on behalf of Young Driver by TLF, with a national representative sample of 1,000 people.