Auto Trader

The process of getting on the road is being put off by the majority of first time drivers, with most of them waiting almost a decade from being legally able to drive, to taking to the road independently.

The youngest group, 17-20 year olds, have seen a 21% decrease in taking up driving in the last nine years and only make up 34% of today’s first time drivers. 44% are over the age of 25 and most young adults are not taking to the road until the mature age of 26. Of the group over 25 years old, 56% claim they expected to be driving at a much earlier age with a surprising 11% stating that they’re still trying to get on the road despite starting at the age of 17.

The research was conducted in light of a new partnership between Auto Trader, the UK’s leading digital marketplace for new and used cars and RED, one of the UK’s largest driving schools. The partnership surveyed 1,500 first time drivers in June this year to discover the motivations and challenges faced by new drivers of all ages in the UK.

Auto Trader’s Editor in Chief, Jon Quirk, said, “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.”

“48% of first time drivers aged 25 plus who delayed getting on the road said it was due to the cost, but there has arguably never been a better time to take to the road in a vehicle that matches your everyday needs, as well as your monthly budget.”

“The availability of finance products and major increase with car manufacturers offering extensive model ranges marketed at first time drivers has opened up a whole new world of choice for younger car buyers.”

“This is great news for some, but without the right help and guidance, it could add to the challenge for many of today’s new drivers.”

60% of first time drivers said that having more information and guidance would make getting on the road easier – a journey which takes them from learning, all the way through to finding the right car for them.

Overall, when it came to discovering everything they needed to know about getting on the road, 59% claimed that they relied on advice and guidance from parents and family, despite many first time drivers being out of the family set up at university or living independently.

29 year old first time driver, Elizabeth Oakley, from London, said: “Looking back, I wish I had spurred myself on more to get on the road when I was 17, I had much more free time and could have relied on my parents for help and support - but it’s a much bigger challenge 12 years on – I have a full time job, and it’s been difficult to find the time to discover how to start learning and pass my test, all the way through to choosing the right car for my needs.”

For the majority of first time drivers who are over the age of 25, it seems the motivations for driving also change with time. 43% claim that family is one of the main drivers for finally getting on the road, with 29% saying they just want to get it over and done with.

Although cost is a primary concern for 17-20 year olds, new drivers who are over the age of 25 list a lack of confidence as their primary concern (52%) – with ‘not knowing how long the process would take’ as their second biggest worry (50%).

Auto Trader’s partnership with RED Driving School was established to offer first time drivers all the help and guidance they need to get on the road efficiently and safely through a new online information hub (view the hub here) that will work as a doorway to relevant advice and guidance through videos and tools. The partnership has also launched a competition for first time drivers, which will giveaway new cars and thousands of pounds worth of driving lessons as competition prizes. Please see the online hub for more information: .

About Auto Trader

Auto Trader Group plc is the UK and Ireland's largest digital automotive marketplace. Auto Trader sits at the heart of the UK's vehicle buying process and its primary activity is to help vehicle retailers compete effectively on the marketplace in order to sell more vehicles, faster. Auto Trader listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2015 and is now a member of the FTSE 250 Index.

The marketplace brings together the largest and most engaged consumer audience. Auto Trader has over 90% prompted brand awareness and attracted 59 million monthly cross platform visits in March 2016, with circa 70% of visits coming through mobile devices. More than 80% of all time spent on automotive classified sites is spent on Auto Trader.

The marketplace also has the largest pool of vehicle sellers (listing more than 420,000 cars each day). Over 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on and around 80% of all used cars sold through the motor trade appear on the site.

For more information, please visit

About RED Driving School

RED Driving School, part of RDS Driving Services Ltd, is the UK’s largest driving school.

RED Driving School teaches in excess of 100,000 learner drivers to pass the UK government driving test each year. RED delivers a tailored teaching programme focused on helping its learners become safe and confident drivers.

RED is a franchise business, allowing driving instructors to trade under the company’s established and trusted name. Instructors benefit from a centralised lesson booking system, national promotion by association with RED and a range of technical and business development support services.

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Ben Darby
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Auto Trader
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