Are soaring motoring costs putting off young drivers?

If you’ve recently turned 17, you’re probably keen to get your own set of wheels. But soaring motoring costs is putting off thousands of youngsters from learning to drive, according to a new study. Around 43% of young people blamed a lack of finances and the rising cost of learning to drive for opting out of lessons this summer. Others said they were happy to stick to public transport, while some blamed parents for not allowing them to practice in the family car, according to Marmalade, an insurance provider that specialises in young drivers.
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The summer months are traditionally the busiest period for new learner drivers, who take advantage of better weather and the school break to get behind the wheel. Yet the number of 17 year olds taking their test has dropped by 17%, from 386,162 in 2007/8 to 317,939 in 2011/12, according to the Department for Transport. So what’s putting people off? Ian McIntosh, CEO at RED Driving School said: “This could be attributed to a number of factors including the driving test getting progressively more challenging, the cost of motoring (particularly insurance) increasing and even macro-economic factors such as the recession and the resulting economic hardship. Data from the National Travel Survey shows a clear downward trend in the number of young adults (aged 17-20) holding full licences since the economic downturn began in 2008." Let's take a closer look at some of the factors that could be pricing young drivers off the roads...

Petrol prices

You can now expect to pay almost £70 to fill up your petrol tank, and the costs are set to get worse. Petrol prices have been rising this summer and experts fear that the civil unrest in Syria and Egypt could push up oil prices further. Average UK petrol prices have increased by almost 3p a litre since hitting a low in June, according to the AA. It says the average cost of unleaded petrol is now 137.5p per litre, while diesel is 141.9p per litre. Assuming an average tank to be 50 litres, it will cost you £68.75 to fill up on petrol or £70.95 for diesel. And the older your car, the more petrol it will probably consume, meaning you have to fill your tank more often. To minimise the costs of your fuel, use our nifty new fuel calculator to see if it is worth driving to the cheapest petrol station.

High insurance premiums

Even if young people can save enough to buy a car, they often find that sky-high insurance premiums make driving an impossible dream. The average cost of insurance for 17 to 19 year olds is now £1,178 year, according to our figures at MoneySupermarket – and that’s before you start on the running costs of the car. Since December 2012 it has been illegal for car insurers to offer men and women different prices, despite young men being statistically more likely to be involved in a car accident and therefore a higher risk to insure. Rather than insurance getting cheaper for young men, costs have gone up for young women as insurers balance out their pricing. We calculated that female drivers aged between 17-19 years old saw a staggering 14.9% increase to their premiums just in the first two months of this year. So if you are a teenager or young driver it is more important than ever to shop around for the cheapest possible insurance quote. Here at MoneySuperMarket we will help you find the best deal.

Road tax and servicing costs

You might only be able to afford to buy an old banger, but sadly these cars come with the highest road tax costs. Road tax is calculated according to a car’s engine size or its energy efficiency, so the more pollution that spews out of your car, the more tax you will pay. For example, a brand new Ford Fiesta is not charged any road tax. But a three year old model is charged £105 and a five year old model is charged £140 a year, according to our analysis. Sadly old bangers can also cost a lot to maintain. A driver with a five-year-old Ford Fiesta can expect to pay £55 for an MOT, £155 for servicing and £18 for breakdown cover on average – but the bills could be much higher if something goes seriously wrong with the car. Before buying a car it’s worth checking the road tax rate on the Government’s website to avoid any nasty surprises.

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