The gradual easing of the coronavirus lockdown has seen more new drivers than ever opting to learn with another family member, analysis of RAC Learner Driver Insurance data suggests. As anyone who has attempted to be either teacher or pupil with a family member, you will know that this is one of the most stressful things anyone can attempt.
With driving instructors unable to start giving tuition again until 4 July as a result of the pandemic, figures show just how eager new drivers were to get behind the wheel with RAC Insurance recording its highest-ever weekly demand for learner driver insurance during the first week of June – up on the same week last year marginally, and a significant 37% up on 2018.
And despite driving schools now back in operation the desire to take lessons from a family member shows no signs of abating, perhaps in part fuelled by a long backlog of students wanting to learn to drive with an instructor.
The average number of learner driver policies bought each week through June and the first half of this month is up 27.5% on pre-lockdown levels and is also higher than the RAC would expect to see at this time of year, up 6% on the same period in 2019.
The figures also reveal provisional drivers are now opting for longer policies of 36 days, up from an average of 30 days over the same period last year – suggesting those starting out on their driving careers are keen to make up for time lost earlier in the lockdown when they were unable to learn to drive.
Separate RAC research conducted earlier in the lockdown showed that a third of drivers aged 17 to 34 felt having access to a car was more important than ever during the pandemic. The ongoing message from national and local governments for people to avoid public transport up until now could also have had the effect of accelerating new drivers’ interest in having lessons, and passing their test to give them the freedom they need.
RAC Insurance spokesperson Simon Williams said:
“As lockdown began to be eased but learning to drive with an instructor still wasn’t possible, we saw demand for our learner driver insurance grow as this was the only way new drivers could continue to get experience on the roads at the start of their driving careers. The fact we have seen demand for policies hit an all-time high is remarkable, given just what an abnormal year 2020 has been so far.
“But interestingly, while driving schools have been allowed to reopen since 4 July, our figures show there’s still strong demand for lessons from mum and dad, perhaps driven by fears over sharing a vehicle with somebody else – or perhaps because professional instructors are being inundated with requests for lessons and are struggling to cope with demand.
“The impact of the coronavirus on people’s travel habits has thrown into sharp focus the essential role the car plays in allowing us to get about, whether that is to do a weekly shop at a local supermarket or travel further afield to see family and friends. We know dependency on the car was already increasing before the pandemic, and for young people having access to a car can literally be a lifeline to getting out and about, whether that’s for work or pleasure.
“So it’s understandable that so many new drivers are desperate to build their experience and confidence sat next to a family member they can trust, and then get on with taking their test. The backlog of driving tests built up since the country went into lockdown might mean they are having to wait longer than they’d like for one, but while frustrating provisional drivers can use this time to get in some extra experience on the roads.
“Learner driver insurance can offer a convenient, good value and flexible means of giving those starting on their driving careers peace of mind when behind the wheel.”
The RAC has published a guide on teaching a learner driver which can be found here.