Lessons, car finance, insurance and fuel all contribute to sky-high prices.
Young drivers are spending more than £9,000 during their first year of motoring alone, according to new research.
A study by insurance company Admiral found that under-25s could be facing a bill of £9,136 for their first 12 months behind the wheel.
Learning to drive forms a large part of that, with Admiral’s research putting the total cost of licences, lessons and the first exams at just under £1,250. And if drivers fail either their practical or theory test at the first time of asking, that figure will rise.
But the study shows that learning to drive is the cheap part. After passing their tests, youngsters then have to get hold of a car. With vehicles costing thousands of pounds, Admiral says more than half of young drivers turn to finance deals to get themselves behind the wheel. Most drivers say they have a budget of between £200 and £299, but around a quarter (24 percent) claim they are prepared to push that to more than £500 to get the car they really want.
As a result, buying a car on finance typically costs drivers somewhere between £2,400 and £3,600 for the first year, plus whatever initial fees may be included in the deal although some motorists are forking out more than £6,000 a year to finance their car.
Then, once that has been paid for, drivers’ thoughts turn to insurance. According to Admiral, the average insurance premium for a 17-year-old is £1,889, although this figure is higher for men despite legislation preventing insurers from discriminating on the basis of gender. The average woman between 17 and 20 years old will spend £1,660 a year, while the average man of the same age will have to fork out £2,295.
Add in the cost of fuel and the potential for accidents, speeding tickets and parking fines, and young drivers can quickly see the costs of motoring soar.
David Stevens, CEO of the Admiral Group, said he wanted to see more plans to help young drivers get behind the wheel.
“Young drivers often need to be able to drive to access the educational and employment opportunities that are vital to their future success, but the cost of motoring for young drivers can be prohibitive,” he said.
“We have already seen the rapid growth of telematics. The Association of British Insurers estimates that there are around one million policies in the UK helping young drivers get insurance at a price that treats them as individuals, rather than paying the price for other, less responsible young drivers’ behaviour on the road.
“This can only be the start though. There needs to be much more flexibility to meet the needs of young drivers. For example, we need the government to stop looking at car insurance as a nice little earner. The insurance premium tax has been cranked up repeatedly in recent years and this levy hits those who can least afford it the most, notably younger drivers, who typically pay the highest premiums. How can it be fair that an 18-year-old student must pay four or five times as much tax on top of his insurance premium than his 48-year-old father?
“A much fairer system worth considering would be a flat rate of tax, so all motorists pay the same amount regardless of the annual premium.”