The Department for Transport’s (DfT) National Travel Survey (NTS) England 2018 shows that the proportion of men and women aged 17 to 20 with a driving licence increased by 8% in the last year.

In 2018, there was an increase of around 8 percentage points in the proportion of men and women aged 17 to 20 who had a driving licence.

“This is an unusually large year-on-year increase, but more years are required to see whether this is a developing trend of more younger people learning to drive and passing their test following decreases from the mid-1990s”, the report says.

Driving licence data for Great Britain for June 2017 and July 2018 based on DVLA records suggests a small increase in licence holding rates for people aged 17-20 but not of the level seen in the NTS between 2017 and 2018.

The NTS estimates that around 18 million men and 16 million women had a driving licence in 2018. Over the last 40 years, there have been significant increases in the proportion of people with a driving licence. For women, there was an increase from 29% to 70% over this period.

There have also been significant increases in the proportion of older people with driving licences. Between 1975/76 and 2018, the proportion for people aged 70 and over rose from 15% to 67%.

Travel trends

From the early 1970s to the early-2000s, the average distance people travelled per year increased, but the number of trips and time spent travelling stayed broadly the same. The average number of trips made, time taken and distance travelled were lower in 2018 than 2002, although trips rates have increased in the last three years.

The average distance travelled increased by 61% from 1972/73 to a high of 7,211 miles in 2003. Over the same period, the average number of trips and average time spent travelling increased by 11% and 10% respectively.

Types of vehicles people own

In the 2018 NTS in England, around 63% of cars were petrol, and about 35% were diesel. Around 1.5% were another fuel type, such as plug-in hybrid or electric. These figures are broadly comparable with the DfT vehicle statistics based on DVLA data. In 2018, a question on the transmission of the vehicle was asked for the first time. Around 77% of cars were manual, and 23% automatic.

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