Fewer young drivers are taking to the roads

Fewer young drivers are taking to the roads
The number of young people learning to drive is decreasing, according to new “eye-opening” government figures.

Released on Thursday, the National Travel Survey 2016 suggests a fear of the associated costs is keeping more and more youngsters off the road.

Overall the number of trips taken in England, excluding short walks, continued on a steadily decreasing trend and has gone down by 13% since 2002.

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Since the mid-1970s the proportion of adults aged 17 and over who hold a driving licence has increased to 73%, from 48%.

It represents over 32 million licence holders – but for young adults in the 17-20 age group, the proportion of licence holders has been on a downward spiral since the 1990s – a boon time for this age group.

Around 46% of practical car test candidates were aged 17-20 in 2016/17.

For people of this age, the main barrier cited for not learning is cost – whereas older age groups say their main reasons are based on safety concerns or lack of interest.

RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes describes the figures as eye-opening.

He said: “The number of young people learning to drive is clearly decreasing, with the main reasons given for this being a lack of interest in driving and the cost.

“While the cost of learning to drive is significant, the spiralling cost of insuring a car after passing the test must be the main barrier to young people starting their driving careers.”

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In 2016, people made an average of 774 journeys – nearly 15 trips a week on average, excluding short walks.

A total of 62% of trips were made by car, whether as a driver or passenger.

The time and distance of journeys was also down on 15 years ago. The average person’s annual distance covered (6,396 miles) was 10% lower than in 2002, and 3% lower than in 2015.

The average annual mileage of a household car was 7,800 miles in 2016, dropping from 9,200.

Nicholas Lyes added: “With other figures showing that car availability per household is now at its highest level on record, and that over the last 10 years the majority of journeys made by car remain extremely short, this reflects a simple reality that for many of us the car is – rightly or wrongly – the only viable option for most trips.

“Fewer and fewer of us appear to be opting for the one alternative form of public transport that is most widely available – the bus. This suggests a comprehensive, reliable and good value bus network just doesn’t exist for many people.

“Huge strides are going to be needed to invest in public transport if the Government is to encourage people to use other forms of transport as part of trying to clean up the UK’s air.”

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.