Saturday, 9 January 2016

Five years until JJ can learn to drive - really?

Teenage boy passed driving exam from Shutterstock

The thought of my child learning to drive sends shivers down my spine if I'm honest. Where does the time go, how can it possibly be that JJ will turn 17 in just under five years?

There is so much to think about - who will teach him? How will he/we pay for the lessons when they now cost around £24 per hour? What car will he drive, surely our 7 seater is too big for a new driver? Will we have to consider buying a little run around car? but then, what about the cost of insurance? The list of questions and worries goes on and on.

I'm not the most confident of drivers. We live in the countryside but I refuse to drive down single lanes for the fear of meeting a tractor and having to reverse. I also don't really drive in the snow and thus I suspect I would not be the best person to teach JJ but with a lesson costing about £24 for an hour, that is probably more than he would earn in a day doing a Saturday job at age 17/18 so maybe learning with your parents is the best option nowadays?

Things do seem to have changed now though and many children have an expectation that their parents will pay for their driving lessons and even their first car. That is just not practical for dh and I as we chose to take jobs that provide satisfaction rather than money and I really am not that keen to teach my children myself. I suspect dh might feel differently but recent research from showed that children feel far more anxious when learning to drive alongside their dad rather than with a professional teacher. Take a look at this short video and see the girls heart rate as she drives with both her dad and the qualified teacher. She certainly appears to make far more mistakes and to be on edge with her Dad.

Watching that video I know for sure that I'd rather learn with Sandra Dodson from Sky’s Driving School of Mum and Dad and former deputy chief driving examiner at DSA, Driving Standards Agency rather than my Dad. As she says "stressed and anxious drivers are distracting" and sorry Dad I know you would have been a stress-monkey if you had been teaching me. Bad language and aggression do not a great driver make, however safe I feel in the car with you.

Luckily when I learnt to drive it was just £10 an hour and I worked enough hours to pay for my lessons and to still enjoy being a teenager going out with my mates. It took me an age and I had dozens of lessons and know it cost a lot of money.  Not half as much as the suggested average cost is nowadays though, as £1,128 is an awful lot of money to find and is one of the reasons that despite how little we earn we still save a small amount each month for the children and this can go towards things like driving lessons when they need them.

Oh well, no need for me to be too anxious for a while yet, we have some time on our hands and it will be a while yet before I have to refer JJ to look through the pages of to choose his first car. He seems to have ideas of being able to buy himself something quite slick 'as I'll be earning loads designing computer games Mum' and who am I to burst his bubble?

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