Keith McClelland watched from the sidelines as his 13-year-old son Logan cruised around in a go-kart.
His son is one of 120 people between 10 and 16 years old participating in Toyota’s kartSTART, a travelling drivers’ education program, at Westerner Park in Red Deer this weekend.
The goal of the program is to teach children how vehicles work and how to stay safe while driving.
This is the third time McClelland and his son made the trip from Calgary to participate in the event.
“It thought it was a good way to introduce kids to driving,” McClelland said. “In many areas they’re too young to go in the go-karts so this is a nice, safe environment where they can try driving.”
McClelland said he’ll be “slightly more comfortable” handing his son car keys in a few years thanks to the program.
“I don’t know if you’re ever totally comfortable,” he said. “But this gives him a little bit of practice and gets him used to some of the basics. Anything helps.”
McClelland said he had more opportunity to drive when he was younger.
“When I was a kid I spent a lot of time on the farm where I’d drive farm vehicles. Kids now don’t get that opportunity before they get to driver’s school,” McClelland said.
Red Deer is the second of 10 stops for the program, which has toured Canada for eight years.
The event also runs Saturday and Sunday, but both days are already sold out.
Russ Bond, kartSTART owner, said driving in go-karts is an effective way to teach future drivers.
“The go-karts are the same size as the kids, so they’re the ideal vehicle to teach them with. They won’t have any extra, complicated controls … because it’s just a raw vehicle,” he said.
Bond said if a child starts learning how to drive earlier, they’ll become a better driver.
“It’s a fun day driving around in go-karts, but you’re also learning a life skill. Once you learn it once, you don’t have to learn it again. You just have to get better at it,” he said.
Go-karts specifically designed for children with physical disabilities. The go-karts look the same as the others, but have hand-controlled throttle and braking incorporated into the design of the steering wheel.
More information on the program is available at www.kartstart.ca.