A 13 and a 16 year old have been crowned the UK’s Best Young Drivers – before they are even old enough to officially drive.
Troy Hickling, 16, from Leicester finished first in the 14-16 age category, and Hannah Tripp, 13, from Cheddar in Somerset won the 11-13 age category, at the national finals of the 2014 Young Driver Challenge, held at the Birmingham NEC.
They were crowned champions after judges from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) praised their control of the vehicle, precise manoeuvres and quick thinking behind the wheel.
More than 350 young people entered the competition, organised by Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of driving tuition for under-17s, and Troy and Hannah were among the 40 who made it to the final of the contest – which was open to those aged 11-16yrs.
As well as being marked on their practical driving skills behind the wheel of a dual-control car at one of Young Driver’s 33 venues, the entrants were also judged on their performance in the Goodyear Driving Academy, an online driving simulator which tests knowledge of the Highway Code.
Hannah and Troy won the top prize of 20 Young Driver lessons, 20 ‘on the road’ post-17 driving lessons, a Young Driver at School session for them and their classmates, and £500 off a car insurance premium.
Hannah said: "It was quite a challenging test and we knew the judges were marking our ability based on a lot of different driving skills and manoeuvres.
Troy added: “It’s reassuring to know I’m doing so well, and all this experience will obviously be a huge help when I come to learn on the road aged 17.”
Mark Lewis, IAM director of standards and one of the judges, added: “Young people are often labelled as risky drivers; but Troy, Hannah and all the entrants to the contest have shown that they can achieve the highest standards of driving safety.
“There is a small amount of research to suggest that those who undertake driver training at an early age pass their DVSA test first time. It would seem that whilst they may have less on-road driver training once they obtain their provisional licence, their attitudes to safe driving remain unchanged by peer pressure.
“I heard two parents discussing how their own driving habits had been altered by their children. One mum said that her son was now pointing out her bad driving habits and particularly encouraging her to drive within the speed limits.
“Here we see a reversal of the trend where children learn their driving behaviour at a very early age from watching their parents. We are now seeing that parents are being corrected by their children who have undertaken the Young Driver programme. This could have a massive impact on road safety.”
Kim Stanton from Young Driver said: “This competition has proven just how much young people can learn before they are even officially old enough to drive, and we are delighted that so many youngsters have shown the desire to not only learn the basics but also hone their skills."