Monday Musing: Young Drivers a thing of the past? What does the data say?


While doing my weekly Monday morning check of news stories the other week, I came across this provocative headline: Millennials are killing the car. Expecting a chest-thumping article from a car magazine or tabloid, I was pleasantly surprised to find a fascinating journey from City Metric an arm of the New Statesman, into what DVLA data[1] reveals about the issuing of driving licences.

The data suggested that younger people, those under 40, are losing their interest in driving[2]. A bold claim no doubt but one which the numbers seem to support. City Metric's analysis[3] shows that only 538,000 people aged 25 were issued with a drivers licence, out of a total of around 900,000 people in that age group. By comparison, the 937,000 54-year-olds in the country have a total of 880,000 licenses. For those of you without a calculator handy, that is 59% (25-year-olds) vs 93% (54-year-olds): a significant difference.  

What explains this? Well, those under 40 are more likely to be in full-time education or work, located in urban areas. This reduces the need for a car for short journeys, due to the availability of major public transport infrastructure. When combined with the higher instance of older cohorts living in rural and suburban areas requiring greater access to a personal car, you have a partial explanation for the difference, although there are wider income related issues which also play a factor.  

The interesting point for me and I think the rest of the team, was the suggestion in the article that this trend would continue into later life; that it would interact with the established pattern of older drivers ceasing to drive. When coupled with the rise of driverless vehicles, increased use of ride-sharing apps and car leasing for specific purposes and journeys this could lead to a potential decrease in the number of vehicles on our roads.

Congestion and pollution would automatically reduce as a direct result with vehicles able to navigate to their destination more efficiently, leading to a significant reallocation of land as sections of the road network and car parks are no longer needed, and offering the potential for new homes and shared spaces to be developed. This ultimately benefits both people and their environment and provides us with a potential glimpse into the future of transport and urban planning.

To conclude, I would like to return to the starting point of all of this, which was data. Any coherent transport policy for the future is going to rely upon data, but how it’s collected, used, and its interaction with other data sets - parking data for example – will be vital in ensuring a harmonious vision of the future with seamless journeys, mobility for all and cleaner, safer, more liveable spaces.

We are already working hard on this, collaborating with the Department for Transport, GeoPlace and Ordnance Survey to improve our understanding of Traffic Regulation Orders, so we are ready for smarter vehicles. Working with our partners at the Alliance for Parking Data Standards, to develop a world-leading data standard for parking to enable vehicle manufacturers, technology providers and others to share parking-related data across platforms globally.

Whether young drivers become older drivers remain to be seen but I do know that our future is going to be driven by data and the more standardised and better-quality the better.  BPA members can help with this, by sharing information and best practice to help develop the future of parking today. And we regularly hold discussions with members about future strategies and business models, and future scoping is a key focus area for our Technology, Innovation and Research Department. So if you want to get involved and be part of that future, or simply to find out more please get in contact with us at  

[1] DVLA Data set

[2] ONS population data

[3] City Metric Article: Millennials are killing the car, and other lessons from the DVLA database of driving licences by Robin Wilde