Fleet News

Young driver stats misleading

How many times have you read that the number of younger people taking their driving licence test has fallen dramatically, therefore the so-called Generation Z no longer wants to own and drive a car?

I’ve heard it too many times. I had a theory – perhaps these people were simply at a stage in their lives where a perfect storm was happening: a growing proportion going into further education with no immediate need for car ownership, the spiralling cost of insurance for young drivers and more choice with on-demand transport and the like offering attractive alternatives. 

Perhaps, they were simply deferring taking their driving test until a more appropriate moment in their lives.

The Department for Transport national travel survey provided the proof. The overriding fact is that 74% of adults aged 17-plus have a full driving licence, marginally up on the early part of the century. Men are on a par, women are up. And, due to population growth, the total number of people with a full licence has risen from 27 million to 33 million.

Selective viewing does show men aged 17-20 down from 55% in the early 1990s to 29% now, which looks dramatic, but so far they have always eventually taken their tests at some point – hence the overall proportion remaining unchanged. The balancing tends to occur in the 30-40 age range.

The stats show no softening in people’s basic desire to have a licence, ergo to drive a car, whether that car is owned or leased, new or used. And we see it all the time when people are offered their first company car – it remains a desirable benefit for many, especially as the cost of private ownership for new cars rises.

The main catalyst of alternative mobility options will come from Government and city policies eliminating cars from urban centres, assisted by the technology and new services being created by transport disrupters. 

In short, people will have no choice butto use alternatives in the city, but those alternatives will be efficient and clean.

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  • rosco7 - 25/04/2019 10:25

    There are some good reasons for this change. When I passed my test in the 1980's it was out of necessity, and I was desperate for the freedom that comes from being able to borrow "daddy's" car. At 17 this was a major step as I didn't live in London, and pretty much all of the rest of the UK was difficult or impossible to travel by other means. The change now is that for urban 17 year olds, the car no longer represents freedom, they probably can't afford the car, insurance or in many cities even park the thing. Borrowing the parents car is problematic if you are living in a city miles from the parental home. The other aspect is that with online deliveries, ride hailing apps and mobility solutions (scooters, bike sharing etc...) for many they can live without a car. But then as your data shows, as they age, move out of the city, they find they need the flexibility of a car. As a company we are finding many potential new recruits, where the company car no longer makes sense, and for those without a licence, we must find solutions.

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