Are to be given a chance to get behind the wheel from as young as five thanks to a “state-of-the-art” car that could go on sale for about £5,000. The new car has been designed

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New electric driver training car is designed specifically for 5-10 years olds
Budding drivers are to be given a chance to get behind the wheel from as young as five thanks to a “state-of-the-art” car that could go on sale for about £5,000.

The new car has been designed by motoring experts specifically for children aged 5-10, who will initially be able to use it as part of a young driver training day on private land at selected UK venues. These will include specially designed road systems that will allow them to hone their manoeuvring skills, as well as get used to traffic lights and junctions.

The car, which is codenamed ET1 (Electric Trainer 1), took nine months to develop and is powered by two electric motors that give it a top speed of 10mph. It uses disc brakes and has independent suspension, helping to offer what its makers, Young Driver Motor Cars, say is a "realistic driving experience". All versions will also feature a safety system that will cut power to the car if it senses a collision is imminent, plus instructors or parents will have a remote control that can be used to stop the car if necessary.

Young Driver Motor Cars, which is a division of Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons, has intimated that in time it will offer the vehicle for sale to the public at a cost of approximately £5,000, but the initial plan will centre around driver training, with prices starting at about £15 per lesson.

As part of the final stages of the development process, youngsters attending this weekend’s Gadget Show Live at the NEC will be able to test drive a working chassis and provide feedback to engineers. A sneak preview of the car’s final styling will also be shown, with the design carried out by Chris Johnson, who among other things has previously worked on the interior of Volvo’s S60 of 2000. Kim Stanton, director of Young Driver, said: “This is not a toy, it is very definitely a small car. We’ve had children involved throughout its development, working with the designers and engineers to ensure that it provides a realistic driving experience. The Gadget Show will allow us to get a wider cross section of ages and sizes behind the wheel, trying out our final pre-production models.”

At present, Young Driver offers lessons for 10-17 year olds (provided they are at least 1.42 metres tall) in a dual control Skoda Citigo at a number of private venues across the country. The company was established in 2009 with the aim of teaching youngsters to encourage safer driving practices by the time they are 17. To date, more than 300,000 people have partaken in the Young Driver Experience.

The idea of the ET1 is to allow Young Driver to expand its current offering, says Stanton: “Many young people attend Young Driver lessons with brothers and sisters under 10 years old and there has been nothing on the market to cater for younger drivers. We created these training cars for 5-10 year olds from scratch because nothing existed in the market other than toys and fairground rides, and these don’t give a realistic driving experience.

"The ultimate aim is to give youngsters a greater insight in terms of road safety. By getting behind the wheel of a car, and tackling some day to day situations like junctions, passing cyclists and reversing, this age group will have a much clearer idea of how to protect themselves as pedestrians or on their bikes. Of course, it will also be great fun for them, which always helps with learning,” she added.

The Gadget Show Live take place at the NEC in Birmingham from March 31 to April 3.

'I'm just a late bloomer': Britain's oldest student graduates with a degree in military intelligence aged 91
Students at the University of Buckingham may not have noticed Bertie Gladwin all that much while he was studying for a masters degree in military intelligence.

He wasn't there at freshers' week and he probably didn't indulge in many raucous nights out or beer-fueled bar crawls.

But nevertheless Britain's oldest student has proved that it's better late than never.

Mr Gladwin, who left school at 14 with no interest in academia, has now graduated aged 91 with a distinction in a Masters degree after a career in the secret service.

Rather than studying at home, the energetic pensioner packed his bag and headed into lectures and seminars with the rest of the post-grad students, who were all in their early 20s.

Like any other student, the Mr Gladwin turned up late for his first lecture and got lost in the maze of corridors at university.

The World War Two veteran was also confused by computers, which he had never used before he retied in 1987, and regularly deleted whole essays by mistake.

But while he struggled with some aspects of modern learning, the senior student had no problem getting to grips with his degree - after two decades working through the intelligence history he was studying.

As a determined youngster Mr Gladwin rose from his first job as a grocery delivery boy to become a radio communications engineer with the Foreign Office and secret service.

As soon as he spotted the degree Mr Gladwin - who still sends Morse Code messages to friends across the world - knew it was perfect for him.

Impressively, his masters is the third degree he has bagged since retiring 25 years go, after completing a BA in Psychology and a BSc in Microbiology through the Open University.

The graduate, of Milton Keynes, Bucks, admitted today that he was a 'late bloomer' and revealed he was even considering tackling a PhD.

Mr Gladwin said: 'Most of what we handled isn't secret anymore of course, in fact I had to study some of it for my Masters.

'It was a strange feeling to be reading about history in a textbook that you lived through yourself.

'When I started I was worried about being up to the challenge but once I got there I realised I could have been the most qualified person ever to do that course.'

He added: 'At the start of the course I have to admit I was a little embarrassed at first, I didn't know what would be expected of me.

'On the first day I couldn't find the class so I was around 20 minutes late and had to creep in the back of the room

'You are never too old to learn; it's a pleasure to be able to carry on learning through your life and makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

'Of course our memories aren't as good as they once were but you can still keep up and participate.

'I found that my humour hadn't changed that much, even if I did seem a bit old-fashioned compared to my friends we had a lot of laughs.'

Going to university changed my whole attitude towards young people and I hope maybe I have shown them old people aren't too bad either.'

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