Fewer and fewer people are getting a drivers licence in the UK because of these reasons:
Expenses: it’s not the cars and bikes themselves – they’ve become relatively cheaper over the years now we have open borders and mass production – it’s the cost of insurance, fuel, parking and actually paying for the driving licence and lessons. We also have more things competing for our pound such as entertainment, education, and the cost of living (rents and mortgages), all of which used to be lower with fewer options.
Increased urbanisation: we have huge and sprawling cities with dense housing and apartments that frequently don’t have off-street parking or garages. Local councils gradually remove street parking or make it pay-parking or have the requirement to buy a resident parking permit.
Public transport is really good in many places: in cities and large towns public transport is often very good with frequent, clean and cost-effective services. Towns and cities are also becoming more bikeable with cycle lanes being installed more frequently. Services such as Uber make it cheaper to take ad hoc transport when you need it.
Difficulty: the driving test has become harder and harder over time.
Priorities: many young people want to go travelling immediately after school or university and you don’t need a licence when you are backpacking through South America. Read why you should get your licence before your gap year.
Advantages of owning a drivers licence
Discovering the world: with a drivers licence and a car or motorbike you can travel anywhere in the UK and Europe with ease. Sure, you could take a bus, but then you have to adhere to their schedule rather than being able to explore the nooks and crannies that are off the beaten path.
Social benefits: meet your friends whenever you like. While this is fairly straightforward with public transport in big cities, if you live in, for example, rural Lincolnshire, you might find that the bus only goes down your road once a week, or at best once a day.
Family convenience: doing the shopping is much easier with your own car. If you have children, getting them to the doctor is difficult on public transport, and not necessarily convenient if it’s 3am. Visit your relatives whenever you want, too.
Employment: up to one-in-six jobs require you to have a drivers licence even if it’s not actually necessary to perform the job. If you don’t have a licence it’s more difficult for you to get to job interviews. You will be more limited about where you can work and what you can do (some jobs do require a drivers licence). Ideally you would take public transport or cycle to work for environmental and fitness benefits, but sometimes having a car or motorbike is necessary. Read how to get a job as a lorry driver.
Identifying yourself: having a drivers licence is extremely convenient as proof of who you are and your age. It can help when applying for accounts at different places, or to get into a nightclub.
Is having a driving licence really necessary?
It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does give you choices. Unless you are extremely afraid of driving, you really can’t afford it, or you can’t legal drive for a medical reason, there are very few reasons not to get a driving licence. You never know in the future where it might be extremely convenient or even necessary. When you get your licence you can choose whether or not to drive: you might prefer to cycle for fitness, or to take the train and read while on-the-move, but a licence gives you the options and freedom to make the best choice for you. Make a start on getting your licence by practicing free mock theory tests.
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.