Young drivers priced off the road

  • Price of first car and running costs too high for many
  • Drivers pay more than £1000 just for lessons and test
  • Young drivers can't afford to buy, maintain and run car alone

More and more young drivers are being priced off the road because of increasing costs.

Despite the recession, the price of lessons, driving tests, first car and running costs are on the rise and young people are struggling to keep up.

The first major cost is driving lessons and the compulsory theory and practical tests. Direct Gov claims that learners that pass their test have had an average of 45 hours of professional driving lessons. For a learner in Peterborough that costs a total of £958 with BSM or the AA School of Motoring would charge £1080.

The theory test costs £31 while the practical is more than double at £75, so by the time a learner driver rips up their L-plates they would already spent around £1000.

The biggest cost for young drivers is buying a car and this year the cost of used small cars has been on the rise. A five-year-old Renault Clio 1.2-litre Expression now costs £3025 some £300 more that it would have cost in November 2008, where a buyer would have paid £2715. 

Insuring the car is also a major cost. Third party, fire and theft premiums - the cover typically taken out by an 18 to 24-year-old - has gone up by 17 per cent in 2009. An average quoted premium is now £1059, up from £900 in October 2008.

However, Parker's can reveal that young drivers face much higher premiums. For an 18-year-old driving a five-year-old Renault Clio, the quotes Parker's could find for third party, fire and theft range from £1200 up to £3000.

At the same time as the insurance increases, petrol and diesel costs are now at their highest level for the year with the average price of petrol 108.7p a litre and diesel now costing 110.0p a litre.

These increasing costs don't include the costs of tax - which is set to go up again in April 2010 - or MoT. As young drivers also tend to buy older cars they are more likely to face bills for ongoing maintenance and repairs too.


  • Average first year driving costs

Cost 2008 Cost 2009
45 driving lessons from the AA £1080 £1080
Theory test £30 £31
Practical test £67 £75
First car (Renault Clio 1.2-litre Expression 04-plate)  £2715 £3025
Insurance (Average premium) £900 £1059
Tax £120 £120
Fuel (Average 10,000 miles) £790 £870
Total £5702 £6265


Robyn McNish, 19, Accountancy Student, Liverpool

Do you think that your driving lessons were expensive?

I thought my lessons were extremely expensive. Fortunately my parents agreed to pay for half of them, but when I was paying myself I sometimes had to have one lesson every fortnight as I couldn't afford weekly.

Did you buy your own car after you passed?

No I didn't buy my own car; I had to be added to the insurance on my mum's car as I would never have been able to afford it along with all the running costs and maintenance of a car on part time wages.

Would the costs of buying and running a car stop you having a car while at university? 

Definitely. I struggled with running a car while I was working before I went to university, now being a student I barely have enough money to live on, let alone pay extortionate prices for petrol and insurance and any upkeep. 

Did you have to rely heavily on your parents help with costs?

Yes, my parents helped me a lot while learning as well as all the other costs including insurance and they still help with petrol costs when I'm home.