My first driving lesson wasn’t a success. I was keen to learn to drive as soon as I was old enough, as were all of my friends in the rural area where I grew up. We were fed up with walking and cycling everywhere, and we wanted access to Saturday jobs and the freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted. As soon as I was 17, I badgered and badgered my parents to teach me to drive. But, (possibly because our family vehicles at the time were a pair of VW camper vans, one of which was left-hand drive), neither of them was at all enthusiastic about teaching me, and they kept putting me off.
My first driving lesson
Eventually Dad gave in and agreed to teach me. So I sat in the driver’s seat of the VW (the right-hand drive one) and waited for him to tell me what to do. Dad said:
‘Go on then, drive!’
I had absolutely no idea how to drive. I didn’t even know how to start the engine. Dad must have explained something to me because, somehow, I drove down our drive and along the road, while he got crosser and crosser and I got more and more stressed. A short way along our road we met a car coming towards us and Dad grabbed the steering wheel and steered the van along the grass verge. I can’t remember what happened after that, but I don’t think that it was a long lesson.
Thankfully, I did go on to have lessons with a driving instructor. It took me four attempts and several years (I stopped trying while I was at University), but I eventually passed my driving test the summer that I graduated. I didn’t own a car, but being able to drive felt like the world had opened up to me. I’m not sure that driving the Pacific Coast Highway as a newly qualified driver was entirely sensible, but it seemed like a brilliant idea to my friend and I at the time, and we had a fantastic trip.
Cost of learning to drive
One of the main reasons that I wanted my parents to teach me to drive was, of course, the cost of driving lessons. Car buying and selling website Carfused.com have worked out that the average cost of learning to drive in the UK is now £774 (including buying a provisional licence, driving lessons, theory and practical tests) and they have carried out some research into the experience of learning to drive. Their survey of 2,000 UK motorists found that:
- Almost half (49%) of the drivers surveyed took lessons with a parent or another family member;
- 15% of those surveyed were yelled at repeatedly by their parents when they were learning to drive;
- 15% of the respondents describe being taught to drive by a parent as scary;
- 10% of respondents said that their parent grabbed the wheel while teaching them to drive;
- 5% of the drivers said that they almost had an accident while learning to drive with a parent.
Carfused have produced this video which follows 17 year-old learner driver Georgia, first driving with her Dad, Kenneth, and then driving with an examiner, Sandra Dodson. Georgia is wearing sensors which monitor her heart rate as she drives:
It would have been interesting to see Kenneth’s heart rate too – I reckon that his was pretty high (and I’m sure that my Dad’s was during my first driving experience).
Helping your child to learn to drive
My teenage daughter is as keen to learn to drive as I was at her age. She had a couple of lessons before she was 17: one with Young Driver and the other at the Goodwood Under-17s Driving Academy. She’s having lessons with a professional instructor and, once he said that she was ready, we insured her to drive our Fiat Panda, so that she can practice with us. I’ve been out with her to help her to practice, and I’m pleased to say that I haven’t felt the need to grab the steering wheel.
Based on my own experience of learning to drive, and of helping my daughter as she learns to drive, I agree with Sandra Dodson, the examiner in the video above, on the best way to support your child as they learn to drive. As she says: ‘Be there, be supportive, be encouraging…..’
Over to you
Did you learn to drive with an instructor or with a family member? Have you taught your child to drive? What are your tips on supporting kids when they learn to drive?
More on learning to drive
Do read my other posts about kids learning to drive:
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Carfused.com