TEENS got behing the wheel at a young drivers' awareness day in a bid to educate them about road safety.

Swindon Young Drivers in collaboration with Swindon Borough Council transformed New College’s Car park into an obstacle course in the hope it would encourage good driving habits later on in life.

The day allowed those aged 14 and over to get in some valuable driving experience before they can legally begin lessons at age 17.

In a one-hour one-on-one session drivers were tasked with performing a series of complex manoeuvres including slaloms, reverse bay park and an emergency stops.

Instructors from the town's driving schools including the AA, Driving Me Bananas and Drive Force provided assistance and mentoring.

Leanne Nippress , from Peatmoor, recently celebrated her 16th birthday and took her turn behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Astra. The Cirencester College student was supported by mum Liz and driving instructor dad Paul yesterday.

“I was really nervous because I got the biggest car and I felt really scared when I got in,” she said.

“The most fun part was doing the emergency stop because I got to go really fast but I wasn’t too sure about the reverse slalom because I touched a cone but I’m glad I did it.”

Josh Grillo, from St Andrew’s Ridge, took a spin at the morning session but the 15-year-old Highworth Warneford School pupil is no stranger to the roads, having clocked up two years driving experience as part of the Under 17 Car Club.

“It was fun to do this today and it was good to have the experience. I felt really calm driving today because I’ve had the experience beforehand but it all helps for when I take the test in a couple of years,” he said.

Jo Silvester, chairman of Swindon Young Drivers, said the motoring minors’ progress was heading in the right direction.

“Anyone who has come down here to do this is amazing because it is nerve wracking. They’ve all been really polished so far so I’m pleased with how it’s all gone,” she said.

“This isn’t about giving them driving lessons in the conventional sense of the word, it’s about teaching road safety as well as being aware of other people on the road, whether they are pedestrians or passengers. This is a life skill.

"It’s about giving them confidence but also taking more care to think about how vigilant drivers have to be at all times.”

Mayor of Swindon Andrew Bennett was among those who tried on beer goggles to test their reaction times.

Wiltshire Police also provided a sombre reminder of the extent to which drugs and alcohol can impair driving ability, displaying a mangled Renault Clio from a fatal car crash.