Once a year, we hold our “Magic Day” charity fundraising event, and over the years have been fortunate enough to be visited by some very special vehicles.
Over the years we have been able to raise over £60,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust through our events.
The under 17s are the members of the club. They will be accompanied by 1 or more associates, usually a parent or guardian. Once at the club, only the member will drive, except for special events.
The primary goal of the club is to allow our members to become skilled, safe and accomplished drivers by the time they leave the club, and that takes time. Moreover, a number of our special events require people to have reached a certain skill level. Finally, as the club is run entirely by unpaid volunteers, longer associations with the club are preferred.
The upper age limit for entry to the Club is 15. (This effectively means that anyone who will be 16 before 1st January next year is ineligible.)
The lower age limit for entry to the Club is 11. (Any young person who will be 12 during the year of joining is eligible.) Young people, who are not yet 11 can be added to the waiting list and will be invited to join at the appropriate time, space permitting. The Membership Secretary is empowered to exercise discretion on age limits according to demand but applicants should be aware that flexibility is severely limited at the upper end of our age range.
If you are 16 or 17, you may be interested in one of the courses offered by our Pathfinder initiative.
The reason for these restrictions is for the benefit of both the young person and the Club. The Club exists “to enable under age drivers to practice and improve their driving skills legally and safely, in a variety of different vehicles, under properly supervised conditions, ultimately to produce safer young drivers on our roads at age 17 and beyond”. It is not designed or intended for teenagers approaching the driving test and just anxious to obtain some early practice. In addition:
A young person joining the Club aged around 13/14 can expect to take about three years to advance from Ungraded at entry to Grade 1 standard, assuming they attend a wide variety of venues on a regular basis. In that time, they should have become familiar with the Club’s ethos, especially on safety and responsibility, have become skilled and accomplished drivers and be equipped, when they reach 17, to face the hazards of driving on public roads.
Participation in many special driving events, which are occasionally subsidised, is based upon skill and experience, not size or age. Therefore, young people usually need several years to attain a level at which, for example, they would be permitted to drive a single seat-racing car or take a four-wheel drive vehicle off road. Joining after the age of 15 would simply not provide them with enough time to be able to take advantage of the facilities the Club has available for its Driving Members and could increase, rather than reduce, their risk at 17.
The Club is run entirely by unpaid, volunteer associates and therefore needs a constant stream of “new blood” to take the Club forward. This tends to be from the Associates of Driving Members who have reached Grades 1 or 2 and have a couple of years left in the Club i.e. are aged 14-15. If we were to admit large numbers of 16 year olds, they would only be in the Club for one season, there would very soon be no-one to take over running the Club and in all likelihood it would rapidly fold. This policy of restricting the starting age has been one of the reasons for the Club’s continuing success since 1976.
To cater for rising 17s (15-17), the Charity operates a Pathfinder initiative at several locations during half-terms and holidays. Pathfinder takes the Under 17 Car Club philosophy and methodology and compresses these into an intensive, exciting and high impact 5 day course. This initiative delivers key messages about road safety, risk awareness and management, and safe attitudes in a manner that blends learning and pleasure. For more details, please see: www.under17driver.co.uk.
At times we have a waiting list, but at the moment we do not, so if you are aged between 11 and 15, please get in touch and you should be able to join very soon.
Those eligible to become driving members are generally invited to attend an open day along with their associates and family to observe the club in action, ask questions and learn all about our activities and the benefits of becoming a driving Member.
Having joined the club, they will then be eligible to attend the next meeting where we can arrange an ungraded area to start from (we call these Joiners days). In the autumn, prospective driving members will have the opportunity to join the club at that time for participation at the start of the following season.
Driving Members are taught to drive by their Associates (usually, but not necessarily, their parents) in their Associate’s car with the help of
At regular intervals, the member will be assessed by a club instructor to help guide members and associates alike, and when appropriate move the member up a grade.
Club instructors are typically parents of Driving Members past and present who have, in most cases, guided their own Driving Members to Grade 1 and beyond. You may encounter professional driving instructors among their ranks and serving Police Officers, and it is not unknown for Associates to change career paths as a result of their experiences with the Club!
You may well find that your own driving improves as a result of your child’s experiences within the Club. A considerable number of parents do go on to take the Advanced driving tests offered by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (now IAM RoadSmart) and RoSPA.
Members typically drive the family car, but please note that we have some restrictions on vehicles:
Manual cars are preferred, although automatic cars are permitted by exception on medical grounds. NB. A Driving Member learning in an automatic car would follow a different grading path to those learning in a manual and will be unable to participate in events that require use of a manual gearbox e.g. skidpan.
All vehicles must be capable of seating 4 people, up to Grade 2.
All vehicles should have a central handbrake; however, those fitted with Electronic Handbrake systems will be permitted subject to:
a) The system allowing the application of the handbrake on the move;
b) The switch being mounted in the centre of the vehicle in a position which is accessible from the passenger seat.
This is an own risk Club. We all bring our own cars and families entirely at our own risk. However, any kind of damage is extremely rare.
Yes. Our members progress through ungraded, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and for the very best, the X grade.
Each grade requires not only improved driving skills, but theory tests and speciality driving experiences to produce all round better drivers.
We currently use a number of different locations largely throughout the South of England. Please see the “locations” page for more information.
Meetings are generally held on Sunday between February and November each year, with occasional one-off experience on Saturdays, but there is usually only one meeting each weekend.
We don’t operate at all of the located each weekend but rotate between them. We don’t always visit each location an equal number of times each season. While some locations may appear to be a long way away, most are within a two hour drive from home and we do have Members who regularly make the trip to meetings from as far away as Lancashire and Yorkshire.
You can view all of our current locations here.
Other than a few venues having grade restrictions due to complexity and skill levels required, you can attend all meetings on the calendar.
You can go to as many or as few meetings as you like, subject only to the Grade restrictions. There is no additional charge. It is, however, considered impractical to base your membership upon attendance at only one of the venues we use and Driving Members are encouraged to attend as many different venues as possible.
It is emphasised that the more frequently and the greater number of different venues a Driving Member attends, the more rapid his or her progress is likely to be, opening up a wider range of venues and other driving opportunities (e.g. Caterham Cars / Trucks / 4×4).
At present a full year’s subscription is £295 for one Driving Member and £475 for two Driving Members or more.
As the season progresses, there are a few points where this is charged pro rata based on the season remaining at the point of joining. There is a one off £50 joining fee per family.
All normal driving days are free of charge, including regular instruction from our team of instructors, motorway training and truck day. Special events such as First Aid, Skid Pan, Caterham Day, 4×4 driving etc. incur extra charges.
We are constantly evolving, but we currently offer night driving, mechanical knowledge, speed awareness, towing, automatic gearbox driving, skill tests, extensive manoeuvring, distracted driving, emergency braking and more!
The Under 17 Car club is open to all students in the appropriate age range, regardless of other factors. Provided you, the supporting adult or associate are willing and able to provide the support we are happy to include your child.
The only limitation we impose on this inclusiveness is unmanageable risk to others – we have never yet refused entry on these grounds.
It is important to note that instruction is delivered by volunteer instructors who will not be expert in any learning or health conditions that may affect your child. We therefore need your guidance and support in working with them in the most effective way for them. Previous intakes have included children with autism, a range of learning difficulties, physical disabilities, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome.
Driving Members can stay in the Club up to and including the season they reach their 18th birthday. By the time a regularly attending Driving Member is approaching 17, they will often be driving better than most licence holders on the road.