Cost is the factor putting most would-be motorists off learning to drive, according to new research published this week. A survey by IAM Roadsmart, the commercial arm of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), found around a third of drivers were put off by the price of running a vehicle.

The study of 1,000 people aged 17-24 found 29 percent were dissuaded by the cost of running a vehicle, while the same proportion said the price of lessons was a factor putting them off. Some 28 percent of respondents said the cost of taking the driving test itself was an issue for them.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of respondents said a fear of driving had put them off, while one in five (20 percent) claimed longer waiting lists for driving tests were an issue for them. One in 10 also said they were put off by family and friends who said they shouldn’t learn to drive. However, just 14 percent said they didn’t think they needed a car to help them get around.

Driving instructors car with the learner driving in Portsmouth Hampshire UK

The survey also looked at alternatives that would make young drivers consider giving up their car. Improvements to public transport were the most popular options, with 30 percent saying free bus travel would make them swap the car for the bus. At the same time, 27 percent said cheaper rail fares would persuade them to give up driving, and 22 percent said other forms of public transport, such as trams, would get them out of their vehicles.

“Our research shows that among young people the cost of learning to drive is a major deterrent to getting that license which would open up many more job opportunities and increase their personal mobility,” said Neil Greig, the director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart. “No doubt, the increase in numbers going into higher education, and the rise of cheap taxi-hailing mobile applications have also fuelled the driving decline. Many young people lack the financial confidence to commit to running a car, especially when relatively cheap alternative forms of travel are available.

“It is worrying to hear that so many young people are so scared of driving that they have delayed seeking a license. Getting behind the wheel feeling stressed can affect concentration and performance, making Britain’s roads a more dangerous place than they need to be. We can all play our part by cutting learner drivers some slack as they work to gain the valuable driving experience that will make them safer drivers in the long run.

“Public transport use is still down after the pandemic so it has never been more important to consider the positive impact a driving license could have on your lifestyle and your employment prospects.”