Testing cars at 17

My eldest daughter turned 17 recently and is taking driving lessons. The instructor, a well regarded independent in the area, seems very good and my daughter something of a natural. She did have a two hour taster lessons on an off road location some months before and seems to have taken to the road easily.

He has had her driving in dark, through busy town centres at peak time, in fog, on ice, and in rain. Impressive. Especially for only just over half-a-dozen lessons.

Sadly, she cannot practice in between lessons as getting her insured for our cars is simply not viable. Our current insurer (Direct Line) will not even consider her and the best quotes we can get from elsewhere start at over £4000. As well as having rather large engines, are cars are also fitted with automatic gearboxes – so not that great for her to learn on anyway.

We started to explore alternatives rather carefully. Insurance class 1 (or perhaps 2) seems to be sensible. This takes you to cars like the Citroen C1 (or the Peugot clone, 107). Not much point us driving them though.

To our surprise, the dealers were happy to let our daughter test drive the cars even though she is on a provisional license. Brave of them. They did not bother to check paperwork which suggests to me that this was not within the normal rules. In each case, they drove to a well know learner driver area and let her take over.

She did really well. She drove a Fiat 500. Loved it. A Ford Ka (old model) – hated it. Finally, a Citroen C1 – okay (bit shaken by her hatred of the Ka). I thought it best I did not travel with her (might have made her nervous) so let my wife do the parent thing whilst I awaited SAFE return in the comfort of our Volvo 4×4!

I feel I am entering a new world.

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