I forget who said it the other day: people aren’t interested in driving any more.
They told me some statistics: nearly two million people used to learn to drive in the UK every year. These days, only three-quarters of a million do so. I looked it up. If you go to some websites, you’ll see a similar statistic quoted. The numbers of new drivers are dropping off a cliff. But, as you know, it’s a post-fact world, and thankfully (and not to put too fine a point on it) it’s all nonsense.
In the 2007-2008 financial year, 1,762,148 driving tests were conducted. By 2014-2015, that had fallen to 1,532,504. A small drop, but only half the story. More than half of all those people failed their tests, and an increase in the pass rate between those years – from a terrible 44.2% to a still terrible 46.9% – meant that 718,711 people gained a driving licence in 2014-2015, down from 779,207 people in 2007-2008.
Fewer, yes, but not to the extent that, if you were a car manufacturer, you’d start to panic about running out of people being able to drive them.
In fact, the figures say more about the economy than the appeal or necessity of driving. Since 2012- 2013, the number of people learning to drive has been on the increase, as we exit the credit crunch/global recession/financial crisis/insert your preferred cliché here years. Numbers this year are up again on last year’s.