Dad’s Life: Full speed ahead

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MY 17-year-old’s driving lessons appear to be going remarkably well.

Gabriel’s lessons started four days after his birthday and he’s already had three lessons and, more importantly, passed his theory test.

While being delighted that my son has got this obstacle out of the way, I do wonder about the rigour of this theory test.

He did little revision, didn’t appear fully prepared, but still scraped a first-time pass.

He was plainly delighted and now has two years to pass his full test before having to worry about resitting. The way he’s going, I don’t think he’ll need two years.

His instructor seems pleased with his progress so far, and Gabriel has enjoyed getting to know hitherto unexplored areas of Sunderland and South Tyneside.

I’ve put the ‘L’ plates on and had him out a couple of times, and been impressed with his unflappability.

However, he does seem to be in a minority among his friends, many of whom have chosen not to bother to learn to drive yet.

When I turned 17 I entered a race with my peers to see who could be the quickest to pass their test.

Everyone I knew was having lessons or about to start their lessons.

The horrendous cost of insuring a newly-qualified driver has put many of my son’s generation off. They – and their parents – can afford the lessons and in some cases even a second-hand banger.

But the huge sums of money insurance companies now charge young people for their first few years on the road has put many off.

Several of Gabriel’s friends have told me they’re waiting until their 21, or until they’ve finished university, before starting their lessons. Others have said they’ve simply not got any interest or ambition to drive a car.

These young people have my sympathy. I vividly remember the feeling of freedom and liberation that passing my test brought me, and the trips that I and my sixth-form friends enjoyed 30-odd years ago.

MY lads are in the home straight. After a long school year, the finishing line is in sight.

For 14-year-old Isaac, it’s more or less lessons as usual, but Gabriel is having an altogether different experience.

Yesterday, he went to his first university open day. He’s making five such trips over the coming weeks and during the remainder of his half-term his school appears reluctant to start coursework for his last school year.

So he’s got a number of English excursions and a lot of ‘enrichment’ periods to look forward to. These include ‘the history of Italian cinema’ and reading Medieval manuscripts which sound very interesting.

Makes you wonder, however, if he’s not being taught things he needs to know to pass his A-levels next year, why can’t he just have the time off? And spend the time passing his driving test.