A Mansfield driving instructor has launched an innovative campaign to help improve safety on the region’s roads, by giving lessons to underage motorists.
As part of the initiative Hoot Hoot Driving School U17s Academy is helping 14 to 17-year-olds get experience, build confidence and be educated on how to drive safely before they set foot on the road.
Instructor Kevin Hooton said the course at Ratcher Hill Quarry, off Southwell Road West, will help raise awareness and educate younger drivers before it is too late.
Eight people were killed on Nottinghamshire’s roads in just 12 days from 17th December to 29th December 2013, making the death toll one of the worst in the county’s history.
In some cases, police said the accidents were avoidable and would never have happened if drivers had made different decisions.
Mr Hooton said: “The course is designed to build youngsters’ confidence up before they go out on the roads.
“In light of what’s happened all over Nottinghamshire during the winter months, we have seen road collisions increase by about 20 per cent.
“A lot of these incidents are unnecessary. What I am trying to do is to hone in to youngsters that there is a dark side to driving.
“I love driving and think it’s great, but there is a dark side to it and I want youngsters to avoid falling into bad habits and think speeding is clever.”
The Hoot Hoot Driving Academy was started a year ago and offers a combination of hour lessons and intensive day courses for young drivers.
Mr Hooton added: “It is not about passing your test quicker, it is about catching people from an early age and teaching them how to drive safely.”
The driving school has a full obstacle course, complete with different scenarios for young drivers to tackle.
Traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, roadworks and road signs are spread across the course to give drivers as realistic an experience as possible.
“I want to get youngsters thinking about their surroundings and every possible hazard.
“I have been doing this for a long time and it is a real passion of mine, I think education is key,” Mr Hooton added.
Currently Mr Hooton employs one other driving instructor but has plans to expand. He also hopes to hold a number of safety awareness days for young drivers bringing together the fire and rescue services, police and authorities to build better relationships and awareness.
Mansfield Mayor Tony Egginton visited the scheme earlier this month and said it was a great idea that would help educate younger drivers.
He said: “I have given my full support to this scheme and think it is a great idea. There are more and more accidents happening on the roads, not just in Nottinghamshire but nationally.
“It is an extremely good idea and was excellently received by all the parents who came along on Saturday. I am sure that if my parents could have sent me to something like this they would have.
“It is a great use of the space and I think there is a lot more potential for the facility, such as starting a cycling proficiency course, it can be a multi-use site and that is great for the area.
“You see youngsters driving round with their green Ls on and it is just about building confidence without making them too overconfident in a safe environment.
“I wish them every success.”