Did you know one quarter of Australians will be 65 or more by 2044-45? While more and more older people are on the road, young people are becoming less interested in driving. So today’s seniors over 80 are more likely to drive than 18-24 year olds.
It’s a trend all over the world. A report on youth driving in 13 countries found licensing rates were falling in the US, Canada, UK, Japan and most of Europe. Yet advertising does not seem to reflect this.
“Watching most car commercials, you’d be forgiven for assuming all drivers are in their mid-30s”, says research outfit, Roy Morgan. Yet in 2015, 45% of people planning to buy a new car in the next 4 years were over 50 and 15% were over 65.
So why aren’t young people driving?
Changes in driver licensing
Some of the reasons are because of changes to driver licensing for young people, which have made it more expensive and onerous:
- Graduated Licensing Scheme (GLS) delays an unrestricted licence by 36 months, from age 17.5 to 20
- Compulsory minimum (120 hours) of supervised driving (driving with parents!) to get a P plate
- More tests, which cost money, and the cost of a licence
- Zero or low tolerance to traffic offences for L and P drivers.
Changes in lifestyles
Not so long ago, young people moved quickly from secondary school to full-time work, got married, took on mortgages and then had children.
Today, they stay at home to save money while being educated and often have trouble getting full-time work. Their parents may drive them around or, where it exists, young people use public transport.
The car is no longer a status symbol, in fact, Millennials say it’s more a symbol of adult responsibility. Gadgets and mobile phones, not cars, are today’s status symbols.
Our blog, Younger drivers are more at risk and pay more insurance, also helps to explain why younger people are not driving.
No driving habit
What this means for the future of driving is unclear. But the habit of driving is formed young, and young people today may never form that habit, especially as car-sharing and autonomous cars become more common.
For seniors, driving is still ingrained. As one Monash University lecturer notes:
“Once someone shapes their life, work and home around the car it is far, far harder to persuade them not to use it.”