Young drivers: number of full licence holders falling

12.00 | 31 July 2017 | | 5 comments

New analysis of DVLA data has led the RAC to question whether the cost of learning to drive is ‘proving prohibitive’ for young people.

The RAC Black Box Car Insurance analysis, published on 29 July, shows that while the number of 17-24 year-olds with a provisional driving licence has increased by 8% over the last four years, there has been a 6% fall in those with a full licence.

Among teenage drivers (17-19 year-olds), the number of provisional licence holders was up 10% over the same period, while the number of fully qualified drivers was down 8%.

Simon Williams, RAC Black Box Car Insurance spokesman, says that the cost of lessons – and the number required to reach the necessary skill level to take the test – has ‘presumably played a part in this’.

In addition, driving test data for the last four years shows there has been a 13% decline in the number of tests taken, as well as the number passed.

Looking at the data from 2007, the RAC analysis shows that the drop in the number of tests taken increases to 29%. The pass rate of 47% has not changed in the last four years, but has improved from 2007 (44%).

Simon Williams, RAC Black Box Car Insurance spokesman, said: “Learning to drive is a key step towards personal freedom and the figures very clearly demonstrate there is a desire for young people to embark on that journey.

“Surprisingly, figures show both an overall drop in the number of people of all ages taking the test and a fall in the number of young people who are fully qualified drivers. This implies that an increasing number are not going on to take and pass their driving tests, and are therefore remaining as provisional licence holders.

“The cost of lessons and the number required to reach the necessary skill level to take the test has presumably played a part in this. With driving lessons now costing around £25 an hour and students possibly requiring 20 to 30 at a cost of approximately £500 to £750 it clearly can be a very expensive rite of passage.

“And then once new drivers qualify to drive on their own they somehow have to foot their car insurance bills of usually around £1,000 or higher. But while this is clearly not very appealing it would seem unlikely that it is putting young drivers off taking their tests.”




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    Many more are going to university and see no need to learn whilst they are there. They will not need a car at uni and insurance is likely to be more than if they were at home. The figures seem to agree with this, as more have a provisional licence but are not learning/taking a test.

    Andy, Warwick
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    The headline refers to the number of license holders falling, rather than car ownership. Even if one wasn’t planning on buying a car in the near future for the reasons suggested i.e. costs etc. it does seem odd that young people are not at least preparing themselves for car ownership by at least learning/qualifying as a driver.

    When I was around 17/18 in school, the talk for most as I recall, was about learning to drive as soon as possible, even if car ownership as out of the question – I think it was down to enthusiasm for cars and driving generally.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    As more young adults migrate towards larger urban areas the need for an individually owned car becomes both less necessary and less attractive. There will be a mix of reasons and cost is likely to be one of them why younger drivers are decreasing in numbers. Perhaps mopeds are more attractive/practical?

    Nick, Lanacshire
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    My first year of insurance (6 years ago, aged 18, so relatively recently) was £2200.

    One eighth of my wages.
    One eighth.

    This really does emphasise the phrase “live to work”

    David Weston, Corby
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    I am not convinced it is the cost of learning to drive that is the issue. It is more more likely to be the costs of buying, insuring and running a car. A large proportion of young people are now in further or higher education and are already concerned about their levels of debt and making ends meet.

    Ian Doncaster.
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