Big drop in number of young people choosing to drive

By Debbie Randle
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightCorbis

There's been a big drop in the number of young people choosing to drive.

Figures seen by Newsbeat show the number of 17 to 22-year-olds taking their driving test has fallen by 19% since 2005, a drop of more than 200,000 people.

Much of the decrease has been put down to an increase in the cost of learning and then running a car.

Some of the prices have risen slightly. Some, like car insurance, have rocketed.

Twenty-year-old Chris started driving lessons a few years ago but had to stop because he couldn't afford it.

He said: "I don't have the money to spend on driving lessons so it's quite difficult because it means I have to rely on public transport such as the buses or getting lifts from my parents."

Cost of learning

Living in rural Suffolk, it can be a long wait for a bus.

Chris can only work in his nearest town between 10.30am and 4.30pm because they're the times of the buses. His last bus home is at 4.55pm.

"If I miss that last bus then there's no way of me getting home," he said.

"I have to rely on my parents to pick me up which they don't normally like."

According to a recent government survey, almost two thirds of young people who can't drive said they were put off by the cost of learning.

It's not just down to the cost of lessons and driving test, both of which have increased.

There's also the rise in taxing your car, filling it up with petrol and the biggest rise for young people - the cost of car insurance.

Five years ago a 35-year-old would have paid around £245 for car insurance. That's risen to £325.

A 17-year-old would have paid around £2,500.

That's now at least £4,000, significantly more if you're male.

EU legislation

Insurance companies say that's because a young male driver is 10 times more likely to have an accident then someone over 35.

Simon Douglas from the AA says having fewer young drivers on the road isn't necessarily a good thing.

He said: "It doesn't matter what age you learn to drive, the longer you spend behind the wheel the better you'll be as a driver."

There are signs the cost of insurance is starting to fall.

Figures for the last quarter show a slight drop for young drivers.

However, new EU legislation coming in soon means companies won't be able to charge different amounts based on gender.

That's not going to be popular for many.

Simon said: "It's not good news if you're a young lady. It's likely their insurance costs will go up by maybe 25 or 30%.

"We don't expect to see much reduction in the price for young men and therefore overall costs are likely to rise when this comes in."

image copyright(C) British Broadcasting Corporation

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