The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Average age of learner drivers increasing due to rising costs

- By Emma Lawson emma.lawson@sundaypost. com

The average age of learner drivers has increased to 27, with high costs, delayed tests and changing attitudes cited as reasons for the change.

The Department for Transport has reported that barely more than one in four people aged between 17 and 20 has a full driving licence, down from almost one in two in 1989.

Driving instructor­s have also noted that student drivers are getting older.

Red Driving School, one of the biggest in the country, said that the average age of learners was now between 26 and 27.

Colin Paterson, the head of marketing at Red, told The Times that, despite his job, one of his sons did not learn to drive until he was 27. “I’ve got 40-plus years of driving experience,” he said. “I was brought up in Liverpool. It was a rite of passage.

“I was competitiv­e with my brothers and I had to pass my test as soon as I got past 17.”

For young people the cost of driving lessons, insurance and owning a car can make it impractica­l.

The National Travel Survey conducted by the Department for Transport found the cost of learning was cited as the most important factor in young people deciding not to drive.

Archie Butler-Gallie, 22, has four siblings but only one of them drives. He attributes this partly to the way learning has changed.

He said: “Because of Covid and the complete backlogs, the control is not in your hands any more,” he said.

“What it used to be was you would do lessons until you’re ready and then book a test. Now you’re going to have to be ready by the time your test is or you’ve lost your slot and you’re going have to wait for another six months.”

But environmen­tal concerns have never played a big role in young people’s decision not to drive.

The National Transport Survey shows that consistent­ly less than 1% of people aged 17 to 20 cite the environmen­t as the reason for not driving.

Paterson from Red added: “The rite of passage and freedom that driving gives you, people are just forestalli­ng it.

“They know about it, they want the freedom of the road, they want independen­ce but I think a number of factors are just bringing them to think they’ll consider learning to drive but might not rush headlong into it.”

 ?? ?? Driving schools say the average age of learners is now between 26 and 27.
Driving schools say the average age of learners is now between 26 and 27.

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