Average age to start driving increases to 26

First time drivers are waiting nearly a decade to take to the road independently, according to a new survey.

The research, conducted by Auto Trader and driving school RED, found that when it comes to first time drivers, those over the age of 25 now account for more than two fifths (44%) – pushing up the average age for a beginner to 26.

17-20 year olds now make up just over a third (34%) of first time drivers on today’s roads and over the last nine years, the number of people in this age group taking up driving has decreased by 21%.

However, starting to drive slightly later in life doesn’t seem to have been a deliberate choice as more than half (56%) of those aged over 25 said they expected to be behind the wheel a lot sooner.
Not all young drivers are waiting, though. More than one in 10 (11%) started the process at 17 but they’re still trying to get on the road.

Auto Trader’s editor in chief, Jon Quirk, commented: “Our research reveals that getting on the road can be a daunting experience for first time drivers, and it’s something that becomes a bigger challenge as the years go on.”

He notes that cost was a main factor in the delay for people starting to learn – a reason cited by half (48%) of first time drivers over the age of 25.

Getting on the road doesn’t just constitute learning to drive, but also finding the right car. In order to make this process easier, six in 10 (60%) of first time drivers think there should be more information and guidance.

Despite many first time drivers being away at university or living independently, parents and family were still a main source of information, with nearly six in 10 (59%) turning to parents for driving tips.

The research, which surveyed 1,500 first time drivers in the UK in order to discover the challenges faced by new motorists of all ages, suggests that motivations for driving change over time.

For first time drivers over the age of 25, family was cited as one of the main motivations to get on the road (43%), while nearly a third (29%) said they just wanted it over and done with.

Concerns also changed amongst the age groups. While cost was a main concern for 17-20 year olds, more than half (52%) of first time drivers over 25 listed a lack of confidence as their top worry, with ‘not knowing how long the process would take’ coming in at a close second (50%).