How I learnt to drive (by Jess, aged 12)

posted in: Blog | 24

As I am only 12 years old, I didn’t expect to find myself driving a car until I was at least 17. However, this didn’t turn out to be the case…

A few weeks ago, I spent a fantastic afternoon learning to drive in a real car on top of Brent Cross Shopping Centre in North London. I learnt this with a company called Young Driver and here’s what I did.

I had my first taste of sitting behind the wheel on the top-floor car park of Brent Cross, and was instantly struck by how much space there was. There was a bridge, lamp-posts and obviously, loads of flat spaces to drive around, meaning that there was something for all levels of drivers.

In my 60 minute lesson, I learnt to start and stop my car, move away, change gears and steer. In the car, there were two pairs of controls for my feet – one for me and one for my instructor, Mike. I had control of the steering wheel, but he could easily reach over me and change the direction in which the car was going (just in case he needed to!)

Mike was really helpful and he taught me a lot. Although I was absolutely terrible at braking, he managed to A) keep a straight face B) not have a heart attack and C) help me improve. We had a very interesting discussion and he make my experience even more special.

Near to the end of the hour, I was driving figure-8s around lamp posts and driving around roundabouts made of cones. This was incredibly exciting, and definitely my favourite part of the session.

Apparently, one in five people crash their cars in the first six months of passing their driving test. I wonder if it would help if you had more experience of driving beforehand. Dad says that this is definitely something he would buy me a few months before I started taking driving lessons for real.

Overall, I thought Young Driver was something you should definitely try out if you live in the UK, as there are 33 centres across the country, you learn loads, and have an incredibly enjoyable time. Now I have to wait another five years before driving myself again…

Here’s some more information:
Young Driver was established in 2009 with the aim of helping to teach youngsters to drive over a longer period, therefore encouraging a safer generation of new drivers at 17.
Anyone over the age of 11 and above 1.42 metres tall can get behind the wheel of a brand new dual control SKODA Citigo car with a fully qualified ADI driving instructor. Lessons take place on private property which has been developed into a realistic road system complete with road signs, junctions and car parks.
A one hour lessons costs £59.95 and a half hour lesson costs £31.99.

For more information log on to or call 0844 371 9010

Disclosure: Jessica was given a one hour lesson to try out on a complimentary basis. All her thoughts and opinions however, are her own.

More by me:

An Awesome Time At Hever Castle!

Brighton In The Winter


24 Responses

  1. Kate Thompson

    That’s a great review and so timely for us – I was considering taking my two eldest there as we have an “Into the Blue” voucher! Thanks for posting.

    • Sarah Ebner

      I think it would be great for a special occasion – special birthday for example, and of course you don’t have to do an hour. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Michelle Ordever

    Loved the video! And what a fabulous idea. I know it’s expensive, but hopefully as more people realise that this is available it would bring the price down.

    I passed my driving test at 17, and crashed my car within 6 months. Fortunately no one was hurt, but my car was a complete write-off…with more experience, maybe I wouldn’t have crashed. I kind of wish they did a drivers-ed in schools like they do in the States – it makes kids respect cars a bit more!

    Going to look into this for my son who will be learning to drive in the next couple of years!

    • J

      It was amazing and I definitely agree with you – it would be great to have drivers-ed in schools!

    • J

      I think that she will definitely love it. I had loads of fun and learnt loads!

  3. Vicky Wombwell Kuhn

    What a great idea! I do think we learn about the safety aspects of driving to late here, and are taught to pass tests rater than how to drive safely. I would like to see us learning basic road and driving safety in school like they do in the US
    Love Vicky
    Around and Upside Down

    • J

      I totally agree! I think that the UK definitely needs to adopt a different style of teaching driving and that Young Driver is a great idea to change this.

  4. Kara Guppy

    We have something similar here at an event in the summer and mine love having a go. My son turns 17 next month so will be on the road properly!

  5. Trish Burgess

    Initially the idea of learning to drive on the roof of shopping centre was very scary! But looking at the video I see it is a very large roof 😉

    I’m really impressed with the video and the graphics. Is this hard to do as I am pretty hopeless?

  6. Steph Curtis

    Not heard of this, and scarily only 3 years until we may need it! Great idea I think, the more ‘safe’ experience they can get the better x

  7. Mums do travel

    This is such a good idea. My daughter is 15 and can’t wait to learn to drive so tho should probably be a good thing for her to do. I’ll have to see if these lessons are on offer somewhere near where we live.

  8. Agata Pokutycka

    This is a really good idea. Every parent of a teen should buy one lesson, so they know how it is behind the wheel of the car and do not try to do it on the road with an older friend

  9. Megan

    My son’s had several lessons now with Young Drivers and loves it. They even do a half day course once you’ve had a few lessons which allows them to drive in different conditions/different speeds, etc. We’re looking to book that in September. Definitely recommend it, he’s 14 and is developing a confidence for driving that I’m sure will help immensely when he gets out on the roads at 17.

    • Sarah Ebner

      That sounds brilliant. I hadn’t thought of getting Jess more than one lesson, but as she gets older, maybe I will. It would make a lot of sense.

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