Cost rated as the biggest reason why young people are stalling on driving

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Passing your driving test was once seen as a rite of passage for most youngsters. But with the number of young people getting behind the wheel now declining, research conducted by the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has indicated why many young people aged 17-24 have put the brakes on learning to drive.

Of 1,000 young drivers surveyed, cost concerns were rated as the biggest reason for why young people had been put off learning to drive at first. Equal top concerns (29%) were the price of lessons and the cost of running car, closely followed in second spot (28%) by the cost of taking the driving test itself.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, commented: “Our research shows that among young people the cost of learning to drive is a major deterrent to getting that license which would open up many more job opportunities and increase their personal mobility.”

“No doubt, the increase in numbers going into higher education, and the rise of cheap taxi-hailing mobile applications have also fuelled the driving decline. Many young people lack the financial confidence to commit to running a car, especially when relatively cheap alternative forms of travel are available.”

The survey also revealed that fear of driving had put off 26% of respondents from learning to drive, with longer waiting lists for tests only being an issue for 20%. Finding the right car and the time to take lessons were also mentioned by respondents, but only 14% felt they didn’t need a car to get round. One in ten were actually put off by family or friends recommending they shouldn’t learn to drive.

Neil added: “It is worrying to hear that so many young people are so scared of driving that they have delayed seeking a license. Getting behind the wheel feeling stressed can affect concentration and performance, making Britain’s roads a more dangerous place than they need to be. We can all play our part by cutting leaner drivers some slack as they work to gain the valuable driving experience that will make then safer drivers in the long run.”

Interestingly, the survey also explored which alternatives would make young drivers consider giving up driving a personal car. Improved public transport was the prevailing sentiment, with 30% of those surveyed stating that free bus travel would make them consider exchanging their keys for a bus pass. Also, 27% disclosed that cheaper rail fares would persuade them to give up driving their own vehicle, whilst 22% said modern forms of public transport like trams would prompt them to ditch their car.

Neil concluded with a warning for those stalling to get their licence: “Public transport use is still down after the pandemic so it has never been more important to consider the positive impact a driving license could have on your lifestyle and your employment prospects.”

Which of the following, if any, put you off learning to drive at first?

Costs of the lessons 29%
The cost of running a car once you had passed 29%
The costs of the tests 28%
Fear of driving 26%
Waiting lists on tests 20%
Finding / buying a car for after I had passed 20%
Finding the time 19%
Feeling like you didn’t need a car to get around 14%
Recommendations from family / friends not to drive 11%

For more information about IAM RoadSmart, which helps to improve driving and riding skills through courses and coaching, visit www.iamroadsmart.com.