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Increase in illegal drivers as motor costs soar

Front detail of the new nissan micraThere has been a dramatic fall in the number of people learning to drive as a result of huge rises in the cost of motoring.

This has sparked fears that drivers are not only avoiding learning to drive but are in fact driving on the roads regardless.

Young motorists are increasingly being priced off Britain’s roads by large hikes in the price of car insurance and fuel.

This is reflected in official statistics that show a slump in the number of driving tests being taken across the country and latest figures confirm it.

Between April and August this year fewer than 640,000 tests were carried out in the UK, according to figures from the Department for Transport.

This represents a 5 per cent fall on the same period in 2010 and it is down a shocking 15 per cent compared with spring/summer 2008, when learners sat almost 750,000 tests.

Latest research carried out by also confirms there is worrying trend in the number of illegal drivers on the road.

In a poll of 2,000 people, 13 per cent admitted that they know someone who is driving on the roads without having taken the test or being in possession of a drivers licence. 

Dire consequences

Gareth Kloet, head of car insurance at, says: “As the price of car insurance increases, we are seeing that the rate of people taking driving tests is falling.

“This is worrying as its suggests not only that drivers are going to be tempted to drive uninsured but now they might be tempted to not even take their driving test in the first place.

“Uninsured and untraced drivers kill 160 people and injure 23,000 every year.

“Uninsured driving also adds around £30 a year to every motorist's insurance premium, amounting to more than £500m a year in additional premiums.

“There are currently an estimated 1.4 million uninsured driving in the UK, which amounts to 4 per cent of motorists.”

Young drivers bear the brunt

It is road users under the age of 25, particularly men aged between 17 and 20, who have been faced with the most dramatic hikes in the cost of cover.

In the summer, the average cost of a comprehensive policy for a male driver aged under 20 broke through the £4,000-a-year level for the first time.

This was a price increase of almost 25 per cent on the previous year.

For women in the same age group, the typical annual premium is now more than £2,000, reflecting the fact that female drivers tend to make fewer claims.

Kloet adds: “With more than 28.5 million cars on the road, people must drive safely, so they need to take their driving test and ensure their vehicle has adequate car insurance.

“People will need to be as savvy as ever to find the cheapest and best deals for them by shopping around.”

Pay less for lessons

As well as the cost of insuring and fuelling a vehicle, the price of lessons can also put potential learners off.

Mark Pearson, head of AA Driving School, said: “Learners can help keep their costs down by block booking lessons and taking two hour lessons.

“We recommend two-hour lessons as it provides time to recap what was previously learned, then learn new skills and put it into practice within one session.

“This is a very effective way to learn and should help to cut down the overall number of lessons needed.”

See how much the average person of your age and sex will pay for their insurance in their area with the calculator below. The calculator uses the very latest and Towers Watson data.

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris

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