I'm a dormant driver; passenger-seat urchin - a young person costed out of driving
The rationale for buying a used car? It's still just about cheaper than buying new. Magnificent.
Cancelling Netflix won't get you a house one day. But saving on driving lessons, premium insurance, and steep second-hand cars? You're well on your way to a deposit. I was once a 17-year-old itching to hit the road, now my license is better off in a museum.
The world is just about comfortable enough to get by without a driving license these days. Digital friends; remote working; Uber everywhere. And while driving has always been an expensive prospect for young people, recent trends combined with socio-economic factors have conjured the question - "What if I just don't?"
Barely more than one in four people aged 17 to 20 now have a full driving licence and the numbers have halved since 1989, according to the Ministry of Transport. There's also been a rise in 'parked' motorists or dormant drivers - those who have turned their back on driving despite passing their test.
I fall into the latter category. Me, a trained walker or passenger-seat urchin, depending on the weather. Emerging from university, the idea of owning my own car in the era of tuition fees; inflation; low-paying graduate roles; zero-hour contracts; high rental costs, and even higher first-time buyer costs - was daunting.
But it's not just eye-watering fees putting rust on my car keys. Like other 16-25-year-olds looking for employment, I faced the post-grad ultimatum - move to a city or work remotely. Driving in a major city is currently impractical for young people. Ulez, CAZ, and congestion charges are a costly burden and city centres are a pedestrianised pigpen.
Unfortunately, the financial barriers young people face when it comes to learning to drive, also leave dormant drivers stuck in the mud. A refresher driving lesson is expected to set you back hundreds, and that's if a course is offered in your area.
Meanwhile, if you haven't built up any no-claims bonus during your time away from the wheel, don't expect your insurance to be much lower than when you passed. When it comes to buying used cars, rising prices have reflected the cost-of-living crisis and a surge in demand for cheaper vehicles. The current rationale for buying a used car? It's still just about cheaper than buying new. Magnificent.
However, it’s not all doom and despair. Not being able to drive can feel like a loss of a life skill and a decreased sense of independence but it might just be a blessing in disguise. I always felt pressure to frequently use my car when I saw premium insurance rates exit my account each month - in reality I could have walked, hitched with friends, or paid less for public transport.
Cars are unpredictable; especially used cars. It's not uncommon to find yourself paying more than what the tin-can is worth, just to maintain its time on the road. Even when you've polished that turd and restored that hunk-of-junk, many 'drivers' are still more suited to the pavement. Ironically, motorists who drive less save money on their insurance anyway, so my advice? What if you just don't.