Teenagers may be not ready to drive on the road even if they have passed their tests, training company warns
- Credit: Archant
Getting our provisional licences aged 17 and learning to drive is one of the signs of growing up and gaining our much sought-after independence.
But even though so many youngsters are eager to get behind the wheel, research from an organisation bringing a high-profile driving event to Norfolk this weekend shows teenagers may just not be ready for the demands of the road – even if they have passed their tests.
Young Driver Training is giving children aged as young as 10 the chance to get into the driver's seat at the Norfolk Showground this weekend, where a large, specially-designed course has been set up to give them a chance to drive in a safe but realistic environment.
The company has run the training - which starts at a cost £34.95 for lessons - across the country in a bid to reduce the death and injury rate of young drivers, with statistics showing one in five newly-qualified drivers are involved in an accident within six months of getting their full licences.
That rises to 40pc of 17-year-old males, with the company - which was particularly keen to bring the course to Norfolk, given its rural roads and high accident rate - saying adolescent brain development is part of the explanation.
Teenage expert and award-winning author Nicola Morgan, who has helped with the development of the driver training, said: 'The brain learns to do anything well by repetition.
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'Every time we repeat an activity we are actually creating and then strengthening physical pathways between neurons (nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord).
'The more times we do it, the stronger those pathways become. The stronger they become, the more 'automatic' the skills in question become.
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'There is a danger in learning to drive in a short space of time and with the minimum repetitions needed to pass the test but not to become expert.
'Without these strong pathways, a huge amount of focus goes on the things that should be automatic, such as gear-changing and position in road, leaving less focus for noticing and dealing with sudden road changes, such as another driver stopping suddenly.'
A spokesman for Young Driver Training added that teenagers 'do not generally have a fully developed control centre to help them make good decisions and control their emotional urges, including risk-taking'.
The spokesman said: 'We know that teenagers are the highest risk-taking age group. We also know that risk-takers get greater enjoyment from risk-taking if their peers are present.'
Laura White, head of marketing at Young Driver Training, said: 'With one in five young people crashing within six months of passing their test, it is vital something is done to help our youngsters become safer drivers.
'We believe it is important to train drivers over a longer period of time and that catching youngsters when their attitudes towards driving are still developing is key to producing a safer driver.
'By starting at a younger age you can more easily focus on attitude and behaviour and you have a better chance of tackling a young person's sense of invulnerability.'
Thirty or 60-minute lessons, which are conducted in a Vauxhall Corsa, must be booked in advance.
Young Driver will initially run once or twice a month starting today (Saturday, December 9) at the Norfolk Showground, with confirmed dates so far on January 14 and 28, February 10, 14 and 14, March 17, April 28 and May 19.
For more information, to book a lesson or to buy vouchers visit www.youngdriver.com or call 0844 371 9010.