Some 85% expect to be driving regularly by 2035
An “overwhelming majority” of young people aged 17 to 24 expect to be driving regularly in the future.
Aside from those unable to drive because of a disability of health condition, more than 8 out of 10 (85%) think it is certain or likely they will be driving a car or van at least once a week by 2035, even though only little over half (56%) currently do so now.
The numbers are revealed in a survey by Ipsos for the RAC Foundation.
Over three quarters of those aged 17–24 questioned as part of this survey had some form of valid UK driving licence, either full (49%) or provisional (27%).
The most common reasons given by those questioned for believing they will start driving include an expectation their lifestyles will require it and a belief that driving will be more convenient for them than either public transport or active travel (such as walking and cycling).
Amongst those questioned who had not taken a driving test the most common reasons given for not doing so were:
- Cost of lessons (33%)
- Cost of buying, leasing or hiring a car (26%)
- Lack of time (26%)
- Driving not a priority (23%)
Young people recognised that driving is set to change in the coming years, and many were optimistic about it with 70% feeling positive about electric cars, though there was a split in opinion about the roll out of fully autonomous vehicles with 37% supporting it but a similar number (35%) opposing it.
There is a broader recognition of the need to reduce the environmental impact of driving. Four in ten (40%) of those who drive regularly said they have already cut down on the car journeys they make, while a further 40% who have not yet cut down on car journeys said they’d be willing to do so over the next five years.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
“There is much speculation on whether the young people of today will turn out to be the drivers of tomorrow or whether they will learn to live without getting behind the wheel. The evidence here is that the vast majority see themselves as motorists within the next decade or so.
“Previous research we have done has shown the importance knowing how to drive can be to securing a job. The question is how much the transport landscape has changed by Covid with the answer appearing to be; by not as much as might have been first thought.
“Encouragingly, young people are well aware of the need to reduce or mitigate the negative impacts of driving and there is majority support for low-traffic neighbourhoods, investment in cycling infrastructure and the introduction of clean air zones.”
Chris Rigby, Associate Director of Ipsos said:
“Ipsos’ survey for the RAC Foundation shows that the vast majority of young people aged 17-24 expect to be driving regularly in 2035. However, this is not to say that they do not anticipate widespread changes in the automotive sector between now and then. Most young people are positive about the idea of driving an electric vehicle and are at least open to the prospect of buying or leasing one in the future.
“Regardless of the shift towards EVs, over half of young people think we should expect to be driving less in future. Amongst current regular drivers in this age bracket, four in five say either that they have already cut down on the number of journeys they make by car, or that they are willing to do this over the next 5 years. The majority of young people think the government should be taking steps to reduce the number of car journeys, even if it inconveniences them personally.”
The survey was conducted using the Ipsos Access Panel with fieldwork taking place between 3 and 22 November 2022. A total of 1,000 British adults aged 17–24 were surveyed, with quotas set on gender, age bands, working status, and region. Data were also weighted by gender, age, work status, and region to reflect the British population aged 17–24.
Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation
[email protected] | 07711 776448 | 020 7747 3445
Notes to editors:
The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.
The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist. All the Foundation’s work is available at: www.racfoundation.org
The full report of the survey can be found here: