It’s all about teaching a life skill and making young drivers safer – but it raised a few eyebrows when it was launched 10 years ago.
Back in 2014 two Huddersfield driving instructors Peter Tiernan and Nigel Deans teamed up to launch Huddersfield Driving Experience.
The duo took over the top car park at the John Smith’s Stadium and put young people aged 14 to 16 behind the wheel for the first time.
On that first day – Sunday January 26 2014 – 19 teenagers braved the wind and rain to have their first experience of driving a car.
The event proved so popular it was eventually held every month and Peter and Nigel this weekend celebrate their 10th anniversary.
Peter had the idea in 2013 and while not an original concept, it certainly raised eyebrows when it came to putting youngsters behind the wheel at such a young age.
The experience, unique to Huddersfield at the time, took place on private land and under controlled conditions with approved local driving instructors in dual-controlled cars.
Peter said: “The aim was to give young people a chance to enjoy themselves and experience something that they would not be able to do otherwise.
“But, at the same time, it was about promoting road safety and encouraging the right attitudes to driving so that young people were safer and more responsible when they turned 17 and got behind the wheel.”
Right from the first turn of the key, the event proved to be a huge success with many parents asking if they could book again. Word quickly spread.
The monthly events now take place on both the upper and lower car park at the stadium and, to date, more than 3,900 lessons have been delivered to almost 1,000 drivers.
The young drivers are typically aged from 10 to 16, however the youngest was just seven and the oldest 92!
BBC Look North featured 92-year-old Betty Jones from Barnsley who got behind the wheel as a first step towards fulfilling a life-long ambition to learn to drive.
Peter said: “When we first started we had no idea how successful the concept would prove to be.
“Who knew that 10 years on, we would have managed to provide so many young people with fantastic driving experiences, a great many of whom are now full licence holders out there on the roads of Huddersfield?”
While the events are managed by Peter and Nigel, they use a team of independent driving instructors and a typical event sees 10 vehicles out on the course. With 50 lessons being delivered, it’s no small undertaking.
Many of the young drivers build such confidence and rapport with their instructor and the car that they continue with them when taking formal lessons on the public roads at 17-plus. And the early practice often leads to early success in their driving tests.
Co-founder Nigel said the success wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many people.
“We are so immensely grateful to the dedicated team who join us each month, the team at the John Smith’s Stadium for their continued and unwavering commitment and also to the many parents, grandparents, family members, carers and friends who have supported us,” he said.
“It’s great that people have recognised what a brilliant experience and valuable life skill these driving lessons are.”
More information can be found about the events online at www.hdegroup.co.uk where lessons and gift vouchers can be purchased.