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Learning to drive when you’re older

Learning to drive when you’re older

You might not have had the chance to learn to drive when you were 17. But driving isn’t just for the young. We bust some of the myths around learning to drive later in life.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 03 AUGUST 2020

Am I too old to learn to drive?

Not everyone learns how to drive as soon as they’re legally able to. The cost of driving lessons and owning a car can be too high for younger people, leading more adults to wait until they’re older to learn how to drive.

And with 19% of job adverts listing the ability to drive as a requirement, according to the RAC Foundation, it’s no surprise that older people are thinking about learning how to drive.

More than five million people aged 70 or older in Great Britain have a driving licence, so there’s nothing stopping you driving well into your old age. However, you will need to renew your driving licence when you turn 70, then every three years.

Will it take me longer to learn how to drive because I’m older?

Whether it takes longer to learn to drive when you’re older largely depends on the individual. It’s possible, though, as there is evidence that it takes longer to learn things, in general, as you grow older.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has previously said that it takes around 45 hours of lessons and 22 hours of additional practice to learn to drive, although official advice is now that no set number of lessons or amount of practice is needed.

Will I find it harder to pass my driving test as an older adult?

While it’s true statistically that you’re less likely to pass your driving test first time as an older driver, the figures also show that there’s not much difference in the pass rate between the ages of 30 and 50.

For men, those aged 17 and under are the most likely to pass first time (56.3%). At 30, the rate is 48.6%; aged 40, it’s 46.1%; and aged 50, it’s 48.6%.

For women, those aged 17 and under are also the most likely to pass first time (53%). At 30, the rate is 37.9%; at 40, it’s 32.5%; and for those aged 50, it’s 31.2%.

Am I more likely to have an accident because I’m older?

Older drivers are more vulnerable to accidents related to not looking properly, not judging the other person’s speed, poor manoeuvring and illness or disability. Accidents where someone was injured that involved at least one older driver increased by 5% between 1990 and 2016.

But in some respects, older drivers tend to be safer than younger ones. For example, drivers aged over 70 have a slightly lower casualty rate compared to all other drivers. And they’re slightly less likely to have a fatal accident on rural roads.

Am I fit enough to drive?

Older drivers can remain perfectly fit to drive until well into their later life. But it’s true that some of the elements involved in safe driving – vision, hearing, and muscle power and control – can deteriorate as we get older.

It’s worth getting checked regularly for any sight or hearing issues, as well as any other health problems that may have an effect on your driving.

Will my car insurance premiums be higher because I’m older?

Your car insurance is unlikely to be higher because you’re older. It’s younger drivers who tend to pay the highest car insurance premiums, as they’re the age group most likely to have accidents.

According to Compare the Market’s latest Young Drivers research, the average annual car insurance premium for drivers aged 17-24 was £1,182**. In contrast, 50% of customers could achieve a premium of up to £302.***

**Compare the Market's Young Drivers research from July 2020

***50% of over 50s could achieve a quote of up to £302 for their car insurance based on Compare the Market data in May 2020.

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