Saturday, October 1, 2011

Missing the point.

I don't know who Michael Deacon is, but he has an article in the Telegraph claiming that fewer young people drive these days because of road ragers, sadly he's completely missing the point.
I don’t drive. Be grateful. Keeping me off the road is in the public interest. My mind wanders with dangerous ease. I can barely mow the lawn without drifting into a long and peaceful daydream, rousing only to find myself inexplicably at the heart of a pile-up on the A2.
But it seems that, statistically at any rate, I’m not unusual. In Britain, the number of young people who can drive is falling. Twenty years ago, 48 per cent of those aged 17-20 could drive. Now, it’s 35 per cent. And it isn’t just teenagers who aren’t taking the test. Most of my friends are around 30, and few drive.
Some motoring experts think it’s because today’s young are interested only in gadgets, and don’t find cars sexy. Also, driving looks costly to a generation struggling for jobs. But there’s a bigger reason.
The problem with driving is drivers. Not you, dear reader, obviously – your three-point turns are vehicular ballet. It’s the rest of them. As roads have become busier, and our society more self-centred, drivers have become more volatile. And a ton of speeding metal is a lot with which to entrust an angry idiot. Today, even being a passenger is stressful. Although trains can be unreliable, they rarely get cut up on wet motorways, or honked at impatiently by another train travelling three inches behind them. And I can count on no hands the number of times I’ve seen a train driver mouthing curses at a fellow train driver while attempting to run him into a bollard.
In short, our roads would be lovely places to drive if only people didn’t keep driving on them. I’m doing my bit to make that dream real.
There may be a few young people put off driving by other angry drivers, but the real reason a lot of young people don't learn to drive is cost. Driving lessons alone typically cost from £22 to £30 depending on where you are in the country and sometimes more and is a massive chunk out of any young persons budget. The car itself though is rarely a problem, but fuel (not cheap) insurance (horrendous for inexperienced drivers) Tax (assuming they bother) and spares/servicing (if done at all) all make owning a car ridiculously expensive after getting through the test. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that Michael Deacon's admission that he and his (probably) well paid friends are wusses when it comes to driving is valid enough, but for most of the young people I know, it's simply not an affordable option at the stage of life they are at. It's certainly out of the reach of most of the ones on jobseekers that I know..
My step-daughter is learning to drive though, which is how I know a little about the costs, she's not put off by aggressive drivers, she's not put off by the cost either, though it isn't easy for her, it's something she wants to do and thinks it will be of benefit to her (and her daughter) the one thing that is putting her off though is the insurance costs, but she'll find a way to deal with them too, she's that determined. So in this instance Michael Deacon is wrong, people who want to learn to drive are being put off by the cost of doing so, not by what other motorists do,  if they had the money, more of them would, it's really that simple.

2 annotations:

English Pensioner said...

For our daughter to visit us in her car it involves a drive of some 15-20 minutes. By public transport, it would involve almost a mile walk, a bus journey to the terminus in the nearest town and another bus journey to our nearest stop, followed by a ten minute walk. Two hours if she was lucky, more likely three. We wouldn't be able to visit her as we couldn't manage the up-hill walk to her house.
Cars are a necessity, whether the Greens like it or not, fuel efficient (the bus takes her about five miles in the wrong direction), and you can travel safely late at night.
My worry is that youngsters will not use cars but will go for motorbikes which have a far higher accident rate

microdave said...

I suppose there are some benefits to getting older - I'm not the least bit concerned about "Image". So I drive around in a rusty 24 year old banger which cost me £500 ten years ago. Insurance is about £140 fully comp, and I can easily service it myself.