Why Gen Z isn’t driving

Why Gen Z isn’t driving

Learning to drive used to be a rite of passage, but the cost of living and rising insurance prices have stopped many young people from even getting behind the wheel.


According to new statistics, only a third of 17- 25-year-olds now hold a licence and are driving, the lowest number in records dating back to 2012. The most common reasons, says a Department for Transport survey, for not learning to drive are the cost of lessons (41%), the cost of buying a car (31%) and the cost of insurance (30%).


Alongside this, fewer than one in five (19%) respondents said they weren’t interested in driving, while just 12% said the availability of other forms of transport was a reason why they hadn’t decided to learn. From Ubers to e-scooters and ride-sharing, there are now transport options that weren’t available to earlier generations. 


No more bank of Mum and Dad


Our data also shows that the Bank of Mum & Dad, which used to support older teens through many of life’s most expensive milestones, from higher education to buying a car, has, thanks to the cost of living,  tightened its purse strings.


Our latest Youth Economy Report data shows that 19% of parents don’t plan to save to help their kids buy a car, with the total amount spent on driving lessons dropping from £38,416.20 to £33,096.60.

And it’s not surprising when you look at the costs involved. Applying for a provisional licence costs £34 to apply online or £43 if you apply by post. The average person needs, says the RAC, around 45 hours of driving lessons and a further 22 hours of practice before they are ready for a practical test.


The cost of learning to drive

Provisional licence £34 

45 lessons £2,025

Theory test £23

Test plus lesson £90


TOTAL £2172


The cost of lessons varies depending on where you live but ranges roughly from £25-£45 per hour. For over 45 lessons, that’s between £1125 and  £2,025, more if you are unable to practise outside of these lessons (estimation of 22 hours outside of lessons).


Before you take your practical test, you have to pass your theory test, which costs £23. The DVSA then charges £62 for tests on weekdays and £75 if you want to take your test at the weekend.


If you plan on using your instructor’s car, you’ll need to factor in the cost of their time for the test, an hour for the test and usually an hour's lesson beforehand, which is £50 - £90. All of this makes the cost of learning to drive around £2172 at the highest figure (and around £1271 at the lower end).


The rising cost of insurance


Driving lessons are only one part of the driving cost equation, GoCompare’s survey into the cost of learning to drive asked parents whether they financially contributed to their child’s first car. Only half (54%) admitted to having some sort of financial input, forking out an average of £3,528 towards their child’s first car, with the average age of the vehicle being six years old. 


Alongside this, the cost of car insurance for 17 - 20-year-olds has skyrocketed. Figures show that the average price of car insurance for motorists aged 18 is now more than £3,000 for the first time, another reason why this rite of passage is becoming unaffordable.


According to Confused.com, Gen Z premiums have increased the most out of all age groups. Motorists aged between 17 and 20 have seen their premiums rise by more than £1,000, on average, compared to 12 months ago. This brings the average price of a policy to £2,877. Meanwhile, a £1,447 (84%) increase in prices for 18-year-olds means their premiums reached £3,162 on average. 


Saving for wheels


The good news is more than four in ten kids aged 6-18 (42%) say that recent events like the cost of living crisis have made them more likely to start saving early for big life events like driving lessons and a car. Our own data reveals that GoHenry kids and teens are saving 145% more than they did last year in total, with 3,876 kids saving on average £123.38 each towards driving lessons and a car. 


Some young people also qualify for financial help with driving lessons. Charities and councils offer grants to individuals such as those with disabilities or chronic illnesses or anyone leaving care. This is means-tested, but help ranges from paying for a provisional licence to covering a full set of 40 lessons.


Even if you don't qualify for any help, there are things your teen can do to keep things more affordable. Firstly, help them find a reputable driving instructor that doesn't encourage them to rush their test. Ask family and friends to contribute to driving lessons as part of birthday and Christmas gifts. If you're unable to practise with them, find someone to help them practise outside of lessons. Finally, show them the best ways they can save money, so they can make buying a car in the future a real option.


Written by Anita Naik Published Feb 22, 2024 ● 4 mins