Schoolkid drivers show the way to safer roads

  • Challenge seeks top pre-17 driving talent
  • Aim: To halve new drivers’ accident rate
  • Repetition key to being confident and safe driver
YOUNG DRIVERS: 10-year-olds being taught driving skills. Image: Newspress
YOUNG DRIVERS: While the road-death toll is soaring in South Africa thanks to poor training and driving licence fraud 10-year-olds in Britain are being taught driving skills. Image: Newspress

LONDON, England –  The search is on for the best drivers from across Britain and the process could be a lesson for the authorities in South Africa on how to start cutting our horrific highways death toll.

It involves learner drivers who are YOUNGER THAN 17!

In fact, entrants to the Young Driver Challenge 2017 can be as young as 10, seven years before being legally able to take their driving test or, in fact, drive a car on public roads.

young drivers sophie
PRETTY GOOD DRIVER: Sopie Downing competes in the 14-16 age group.  Image: Young Driver / Newspress

Until the end of July 2017  instructors at every Young Drivers venues were looking for the best youngsters to put forward to a national final scheduled for the National Exhibition Centre in the central English city of Birmingham on September 30.

Forty finalists will compete in two age categories: 10-13 and 14-16.

DUAL CONTROLS

The challenge is intended to encourage youngsters to consider responsible and safe driving, with top marks given to those who show the best levels of control and awareness.

Entrants will drive a real dual-control car with a driving instructor and be scored on driving skill and manoeuvring – parallel parking, independent driving, emergency stops, steering, judgement and positioning.

Prizes will include pre- and post-aged 17 driving lessons and £500 (about R8500) off an Admiral car insurance policy.

yuong drivers luke swallow
LUKE SWALLOW: A junior-school pupil – he’s in the 10-13 age group – is already a proficient driver. Image: Young Driver / Newspress

Kim Stanton, who heads up Young Driver, said: “We’re delighted to be running the challenge for the fourth year. In previous years judges, among them former police drivers and advanced instructors, have been stunned to see how well these youngsters drive and the level of responsibility.”

HALVE THE CRASHES

The awards, she says,  give us a great opportunity to reach more people. The aim had always been  a safer next generation of drivers through teaching youngsters over a longer period and from a younger age.

“Research shows this can half the accident rate – by the time they’re on the road they’ve mastered the mechanics of driving and can concentrate more on interacting with other road users.”

Teen expert Nicola Morgan, is an award-winning author and international speaker specialising in writing for and about adolescent development, performance and well-being, explained:

“The brain learns to do things well by repetition. Every time an activity it repeated, mentally or physically,  we create and strengthening paths between neurons (nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord) which allow us to become confident, fluent and expert in something.

” The more we do it the stronger those paths become; the more ‘automatic’ the skills become.

“There is danger in learning to drive in a short time with minimum repetitions just to pass the test but not to become expert. Driving skills will  not  have not been embedded so there’s huge focus on things that should be automatic such as gear-changing and road position.

“That takes focus from noticing and dealing with sudden road events, such as another driver stopping suddenly.”

For more information go the Young Driver website. Perhaps our national Minister of Transport might take note…?

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