Once considered a right of passage, the percentage of people getting a driving licence has dropped gradually over the years. The reasons are:
Difficulty: It’s now much more difficult and time-consuming with our graduated driver licence system to get right through to owning a full licence. A driver must pass one theory test and two practical tests.
Expense: while the cost of cars has actually trended downwards over the years in relation to overall income, we now have a lot more things competing for our dollar, not the least of which are housing costs (especially in the big cities). There are more entertainment options looking to use up our money, and our tertiary education costs are higher.
Urbanisation: teens living in highly urbanised areas often don’t have garage spaces to store a car or motorbike.
Alternatives: trams, buses and trains are more comfortable and reliable than ever, and there are new options such as Uber disrupting the need to have your own vehicle and be able to drive it.
Expectations: there are more and more immigrants from countries where having a driving licence is not considered essential.
Future plans for travel: Many Australians head overseas for a gap year (or two) either before or after university. They end up in a city like London where owning a car is not only incredibly expensive, but also just not necessary because of how good public transport is. Or, if they go exploring the world, their money will be used saving for the trip rather than on buying a car.
What are the advantages of having a driving licence?
Employment: In the UK it’s estimated that one in six jobs request that a person has a driver’s licence even a licence isn’t actually needed to do the job. Not having a licence reduces a person’s ability to apply for jobs and travel to jobs. It’s still seen as unusual if a person doesn’t have their licence once beyond their mid-20s. Having a licence gives more options for travelling to work that’s beyond walking/cycling/public transport.
Social: not having readily available transport can be socially isolating. While lack of a vehicle isn’t a problem in cities where public transport is frequent, in rural areas it is very important. A vehicle allows you to explore Australia and broaden your horizons, and keep in contact with friends and relatives.
Family: if you have children, having a car will make your life easier for trips, shopping and general errands. Plus, if you need to get them to the doctor quickly, you don’t have to wait for public transport.
Identification: think of the amount of times you need to prove who you are, such as applying for a credit card, getting into a nightclub, et.
Should you get a driver’s licence?
You might not want to drive for any number of reasons: environmental, financial, the location in which you live, or even because you don’t like it. However, you don’t need to drive even if you do have a licence; you can choose. But, having a licence gives you options and choices that you don’t have if you don’t have a licence. Having a licence opens doors for employment and makes it easier to be social. And finally, having a licence is a convenient form of personal identification that is useful in any number of situations from getting into bars to signing up for a gym membership.
If you are ready to get a licence, start on this website and practice your theory questions. It’s totally free to practice as much as you like.