STRAIGHT TALK: Don’t price youngsters off the road

Kim Hall.
Kim Hall.
0
Have your say

I’m not exactly surprised when reading the recent statistics regarding the fall in young people learning to drive.

These figures, released by the BBC, show that the number of 17 to 22-year-olds taking their driving test has fallen by 19 per cent since 2005, a drop of more than 200,000 people.

So why are young people opposed to learn such a practical skill? Perhaps it’s because of their regard for the environment, or maybe they just can’t be bothered? I guarantee the true reason is a lot closer to home than those ideas would suggest.

Money.

Rises in the cost of both learning how to drive and running a car post-pass can almost definitely be blamed for the decrease. With insurers commonly bunking up the costs when hearing a new driver’s age, it’s no wonder so many teens are being scared off. And I can’t say I blame them.

For me it’s a Catch 22. Living in a rural area of the county, three miles from the nearest bus stop, I almost couldn’t survive without a car. Luckily, insurance prices outside of the city are low, but that still doesn’t mean they’re affordable. For a student in a painful amount of university debt, buying, insuring, taxing and running a car seems almost impossible. Thinking about the amount of money I spent just learning to drive itself haunts me.

Aged 20, and half-way through my university life, I could barely afford some dangly dice, let alone a car of my very own. So from the day I passed my driving test almost three years ago, I’ve shared a car with my dad. It may not be the ideal arrangement – the first car I was forced to drive wasn’t my ideal first car; a burgundy red Rover 200 – but it is probably the one and only way I could live my life as I do. My only other option would be a three mile walk, a few bus journeys costing over £10 a day and a very early start – something I am definitely not prepared to face during my summer holidays.

But not everyone has that option. For parents who work away from home, or who need their car on a regular basis, it’s impossible for them to share. Which leads back to the issue – young people cannot afford to drive.

And what’s worse, a number of young people are criticised for their driving skills, with comments being made about their lack of due care and attention on the road, but in actual fact, any new driver, no matter what age, is likely to have a few near-misses in their first few months of driving.

Perhaps insurers should give young people a chance to change these views by offering affordable insurance so more young people can get on the roads. After all, doesn’t practice make perfect?