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What happened when my 12-year-old son took a driving lesson at a Fife track

Driving lessons for children as young as 10 are now available at Lochgelly Raceway. Alex Peebles loved getting behind the wheel for the first time.

Alex in the drivers seat of of a Vauxhall Corsa about to start his driving lesson for kids in Fife.
Alex at the wheel of a dual-control Vauxhall Corsa. Image: David Wardle.

‘Can I drive?’ said my exhilarated 12-year-old son as we got in the car to go home after his first driving lesson.

Thankfully, there are another five years before I have to relinquish control.

But his confidence after just an hour behind the wheel was admirable.

Alex was among the first to try driving lessons for kids aged 10 to 16 now on offer at Lochgelly Raceway, in Fife.

He spent an hour with his Young Driver instructor Stuart in a dual-control Vauxhall Corsa.

From never having put his foot on a clutch, he went on to negotiating roundabouts, emerging from junctions, even parking and reversing.

Alex driving round the road layout which has cones and road signs.
Alex negotiated roundabouts and junctions within a few minutes of pulling off. Image: David Wardle.

To my slight alarm he reached almost 30mph on a circuit and (thankfully not at the same time) took his hand off the wheel to wave at me.

So how did Alex get on in his Young Driver lesson at Lochgelly Raceway?

I’ll let him tell you.

Alex’s verdict on Young Driver

Alex with his driving instructor Stuart Kivlin.
Alex with his instructor Stuart Kivlin. Image: David Wardle.

Young Driver was a very fun experience.

When I got in the car Stuart told me what each of the pedals were used for. He explained the handbrake and other controls in the car.

I was then told to start the car and enter the track area.

It was exciting to get on to the course and start going around the obstacles. The hardest part of the course was going in and out through the cones. It was very narrow with tight turns.

I found the clutch very difficult to understand but still managed to use it.

I was glad to have someone in the passenger seat with the same pedals for when I made a mistake.

When I got to the circuit I was allowed to go faster and managed to get to into third gear, which was great fun.

I would love to go back for another lesson and would recommend Young Driver to other people my age.

What is Young Driver at Lochgelly Raceway?

Lochgelly Raceway is one of only six sites in Scotland to offer Young Driver lessons.

A qualified driving instructor spends either 30 minutes or an hour coaching the child or teenager, with the entire lesson in the car.

Using dual controls, they get even first-time motorists moving off, steering and changing gears straight away. Then they negotiate a realistic road layout with traffic signs, roundabouts and junctions.

Lessons can be either one-off or part of a block.

Young Driver claims the rate of accidents for young people in the first six months after passing their test is 80% lower among those who have taken a Young Driver course.

Alex driving round the Lochgelly Raceway road layout.
Alex is concentrating hard on the road layout. Image: David Wardle.

Sue Waterfield, head of marketing at Young Driver, said: “Training drivers over a longer period of time allows youngsters to have a solid understanding of how to drive a car before they get anywhere near a real road.

“Research shows that creates a safer driver – and we believe it creates safer pedestrians and cyclists too.

“But the lessons are also lots of fun and they’re a great general confidence boost for teens and pre-teens, who take the responsibility very seriously.

“When they’re reverse parking at the end of the first lesson, it’s often a shock for parents!”

What did I think of children’s driving lessons in Fife?

Getting to drive a car when you’re only 12 years old must feel epic when you’ve only ever ridden a bike or go-kart.

I watched from the side of the course as Alex got into the driver’s seat – a sight which looked pretty alien for a start!

I was amazed at how quickly he pulled off after just a few minutes of Stuart explaining the basics of clutch control, acceleration, steering and, most importantly, braking.

Alex driving on the circuit as part of his lesson.
Alex gained some speed on the circuit. Image: David Wardle.

And I was surprised at how smoothly the vehicle was moving. There was no sign of any kangaroo petrol or stalling! Although Alex did confess afterwards he may have stalled once or twice. Or perhaps a few times.

As he weaved between what appeared to be quite closely placed cones, I was impressed by his control of the car.

I’ll admit to a moment of panic when he took his hand off the wheel to wave at me!

And mum fear kicked in when he picked up a bit of speed on the more open circuit. Especially when another car joined and they were travelling in opposite directions round the loop.

Alex driving on the circuit
The circuit allows drivers to go a little faster after their manoeuvres on the road layout. Image: David Wardle.

He was concentrating so hard he isn’t sure what the speedometer said but reckons he was approaching 30mph.

When Alex got out of the car he looked like the cat that had got the cream. He was so pleased by what he had achieved.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for him and I felt proud watching him take to it so well.

Seeing his attitude gave me a little faith that he might actually be a responsible driver when the time comes.

For now, I’m sure having a taste of being a driver will encourage him to be an observant passenger. Learning the rules of the road now can only be a good thing.

How to book Young Driver driving lessons for children in Fife

A 60-minute lesson in a Vauxhall Corsa or similar car costs from £82.99.

Half hour lessons are also available, as are shared lessons for two people and party packages for four or more.

In-car video recordings of lessons (a short excerpt of Alex’s is in the video above) are an optional extra.

Drivers must be aged 10 or over and over 1.42m tall.

Lochgelly Raceway sessions started on May 5 and will be available on selected dates during weekends and school holidays.