Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Review: Firefly Young Driver Lessons

My 5 year old loves to sit in the driver’s seat of my car pretending to drive. She has done this for years, but recently she has started asking if she can actually drive my car. Of course I told her she was too young and she was going to have to wait 12 years, but then I had a chat with the Young Driver team. They have real cars which under 17s can drive. Unfortunately M is too young for the proper cars, but they also have Firefly 2 seater mini cars for children aged 5 to 10 and we were offered the chance to review a lesson.

My daughter standing with attitude and holding her drivers license in front of a red two seater open top car with "Young Driver" on the side

The Firefly sessions currently take place at 16 locations nationwide (less sites than the normal lessons) and the nearest place to us is not too far away at Brent Cross. The Firefly cars have to move around the country so they only take place every few months at each location. The cars feature independent suspension, disc brakes, twin electric motors, rack and pinion steering, indicators and head lights so they are meant to drive and handle just like real cars on the road. There is a tablet on the dashboard which should feature an electronic speedo, clock and power status dial, but these disappointingly weren’t turned on during our sessions.

We made our way to the 5th floor of the shopping centre car park where the Brent Cross lessons take place. After we arrived I signed a risk acknowledgment form (no my child isn’t drunk and yes she can see well enough to drive) while we waited for our slot. M watched the people before us navigate around a route laid out with cones complete with road signs.

My daughter sitting in an orange, two seater, open topped firefly car with an instructor showing her how to drive it, on the roof of Brent Cross shopping centre car park

At our time slot M was asked to sit in the car while an instructor talked her through how to drive and what she would be doing. The cars are easy to use with just a steering wheel and accelerator to focus on (the car stops moving when you take your foot off the accelerator pedal so you don’t need to use a break).

After a few minutes driving around the instructor got out and I climbed in. The car speed is limited to 10 mph, but that still feels very fast when your child is in charge of the car. I tried my hardest to let her steer and be in control, but I’ll admit to helping her take a few of the corners. Fortunately the cars have special sensors which detect obstacles and should stop the car before it hits anything.

The 20 minutes session flew by and as soon as it finished M asked when she could do it again. The other child having a session at the same time was booked into 3 sessions in a row so he got to do some advance driving including reversing. I think an hour would have been far too long for M to concentrate and it was much better to leave her wanting more.

My daughter driving the Firefly car with me in the passenger seat. There are lots of cones marking out a track and various road signs.

When the session was over M was handed a driving license which was a nice touch. Unfortunately she then thought she could drive *my* car! 

A couple of bits of advice

There needs to be an adult in the car with the driver (at least for the first session) so while siblings can come and watch you will need to have a second person to look after anyone on the sidelines. 

The Firefly cars are open top and the driving takes place on the top level of Brent Cross car park which is lovely on a sunny day. Most (if not all) of the locations around the country are outside. They try to avoid cancelling lessons, but it may be necessary in bad weather. 


***Disclosure: we were invited to review the Firefly session from Young Driver for the purpose of an honest review.***
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3 comments

  1. What a great idea, the driving licence is a very nice touch too :)

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  2. I love this! My daughter keeps telling me she want to drive already!

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  3. I remember my daughter going go-karting at a birthday party. She could not steer round corners so it was excruciating to watch as she kept ramming into the piles of tyres at the edge of the track. I like the idea with these lessons that an adult is in the car as well, who can hopefully prevent that happening.

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