Off to an early start: Young Driver helps under-17s get tuition, says RAY MASSEY


The earlier you start, the better. And when it comes to passing your driving test, it could not be more true, according to specialists at Young Driver, who help the under-17s get important tuition before they are legally allowed on the road, even with L-plates. 

As Road Safety Week kicks off from Monday, new research by Young Driver reveals pre-17 tuition led to a 58 per cent reduction in the number of professional driving lessons needed at 17. It also reduced the accident rate for new drivers from one in five to fewer than one in 25. 

Experts say the average learner at 17 needs 45 driving lessons to pass their test — and with the average cost for an hour-long on-the-road lesson about £35, that works out at more than £1,500. 

Baby steps: Mini Willson, now 18, began driving lessons off-road aged 11

But three-quarters (74 per cent) of driving instructors questioned said that pupils who had taken a Young Driver course needed fewer on the road lessons to be safe and skilled enough to pass. 

A poll of 650 past pupils revealed they took, on average, only 19 professional lessons at 17 before they passed, compared to the national average of 45. 

A case in point is the aptly named Mini Willson, 18, daughter of TV consumer champion and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson, who started Young Driver lessons at 11. 

Mini said: ‘I just loved driving, so would ask for lessons for Christmas and my birthday most years. When I was 17 I did my theory test and had my first lesson on the road. 

‘My instructor was amazed because I could already drive. When I showed him my Drive Diary, he couldn’t believe what I’d already learned.’ 

Mini Willson, daughter of TV consumer champion and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson, started Young Driver lessons at 11

Mini Willson, daughter of TV consumer champion and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson, started Young Driver lessons at 11

On average 20 per cent of newly qualified drivers in the UK have an accident in the first six months after passing their test. But for former Young Driver pupils that figure dropped to less than 4 per cent, it said. 

Pupils from ten to 17 learn in a dual-controlled Vauxhall Corsa, or similar vehicle, with a fully qualified instructor, on private property using specially created road systems. 

Sue Stait, head of marketing at Young Driver, explains: ‘It makes sense that starting to learn earlier – with less pressure – can help create neural pathways in the brain for the ‘mechanical’ elements of driving. Practice makes perfect. Then when it comes to 17, those ‘beginner’ driving lessons aren’t necessary – it can be more about learning to read other road users and situations, along with hazard awareness.

‘That grounding can give them the basic driving skills needed to safely control a car.’

Visit youngdriver.com or call 0333 577 9010.

End of an era at Kia

The end of an ‘old school’ era at Kia is being marked this week. 

The manu­facturer is withdrawing from UK sale its flagship grand-tourer Stinger ‘muscle car’ which helped change perceptions about the Korean car-maker. 

Kia is withdrawing from UK sale its flagship grand-tourer Stinger 'muscle car' (pictured) which helped change perceptions about the Korean car-maker

Kia is withdrawing from UK sale its flagship grand-tourer Stinger ‘muscle car’ (pictured) which helped change perceptions about the Korean car-maker

Launched in January 2017 (I was in Detroit to see it) and powered by a 3.3-litre twin turbocharged V6 engine it was Kia’s fastest-­accelerating car, sprinting from rest to 62mph in 4.7 seconds. 

It is being replaced by the new all-electric, zero-emissions EV6 GT which not only takes the £45,210 Stinger’s crown for fastest-acceleration — rest to 62mph in 3.5 seconds — but is also the most powerful Kia production car ever. 

Launched in January 2017 and powered by a 3.3-litre twin turbocharged V6 engine it was Kia's fastest-­accelerating car, sprinting from rest to 62mph in 4.7 seconds

Launched in January 2017 and powered by a 3.3-litre twin turbocharged V6 engine it was Kia’s fastest-­accelerating car, sprinting from rest to 62mph in 4.7 seconds

From £62,645, its dual-motor electric powertrain produces 577bhp (430kW) and first UK deliveries start before the New Year.

More ‘oomph’ need behind wheel of Grenadier

I may have beaten F1 star Sir Lewis Hamilton to a test drive of the forthcoming new INEOS Grenadier 4×4, which is a rival to the Land Rover Defender (mine was a pre-­production prototype). 

Sir Lewis Hamilton, pictured here with INEOS boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Sir Lewis Hamilton, pictured here with INEOS boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe

But having viewed the video of his high-speed helter-skelter off-road run, I see I’ll clearly have to give it a lot more oomph when I drive the final production model in the UK in the New Year ahead of first customer deliveries. 

Prices from £55,000. 

Watch this space for awards 

Chuffed to have been shortlisted for two categories in the prestigious Guild of Motoring Writers’ annual awards — namely the AA Campaigning for Motoring Award and the Genesis Award for Automotive Technology Journalism. 

Winners to be announced at the Guild’s annual dinner at the RAC Club on Pall Mall, London, on December 1. 

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