Young driver numbers fall by nearly 10%

New data has revealed that 360,000 fewer 17- to 26-year-olds hold a full driving licence in 2023 compared with five years ago.

This represents a drop of 9.2%.

According to data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), analysed by CarGurus, there were 3.54 million young drivers with a full driving licence in August 2023, compared to 3.9 million in June 2018.

However, a 16.8% increase (450,000) in the number of provisional licence holders over the same period suggests that Gen Z drivers remain keen to get behind the wheel but are likely being held back by a number of factors, including a sharp rise in motoring costs as well as cancellations of driving tests and a backlog of driving licence applications caused by Covid.

CarGurus’ data shows that used vehicle prices have increased by 37% since Covid, while car insurance premiums have jumped by 21% compared to 2022.

Overall, the typical cost of learning to drive and running a car in its first year ranges from £7,352 to £10,852.

Chris Knapman, CarGurus UK editorial director, said: “A sharp rise in the cost of an entry-level car, combined with increasing ownership and maintenance expenses, has created the perfect storm for young drivers looking to get behind the wheel. However, with the number of provisional licence holders on the rise, this latest data suggests hundreds of thousands of young drivers are eager to take to the road but are having to put off their test.”