Driving licence numbers have reached new highs.

According to the latest figures, almost a million more drivers are licensed for the roads.

Busy busy

According to research by LeaseLoco, over 42 million UK citizens now possess a full licence. This is the first time this number has been reached.

Compared to 41,570,822 at this time last year, 42,120,966 people currently possess a complete UK driving licence. The official data comes from the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA).

Ageing antics

Perhaps surprisingly, the number of qualified young drivers is down compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Obviously, lockdowns and the subsequent waiting times for test slots have had an ongoing effect. Meanwhile, an ageing population means there are more older drivers than ever.

According to DVLA statistics, 3.05 million licenced drivers in the UK are between the ages of 16 and 25.

There has been a slight increase of more than 75,000 in the past year, but the total number of young drivers is down 8% compared to 2020.

Records indicate that 3.32 million people aged 16 to 25 had a valid driver’s licence before the epidemic.

Youthful dreams

Rising costs of learning and driving are significantly affecting young people. Add to this waiting times, and those putting off learning until after university, and the figures make more sense.

According to MoneySupermarket’s Household Index (MHI), a 17 to 20-year-old must spend an average of £7,609 to earn their driver’s licence for the first year.

In contrast, the average new driver had to pay only £1,285 (£3,234 adjusted for inflation) in 1989 to obtain their driver’s licence. It’s a shocking 135% increase over 35 years.

The HMI included paying for the licence, taking classes, the exam, owning a car, insurance, petrol, and other expenses like parking tickets and ULEZ.

MoneySupermarket interviewed young people and found that nearly half of them stated they couldn’t afford to learn to drive without financial assistance from their parents.


Test waiting times are also off-putting and often add to the costs, with learners needing to have more lessons during the waiting period.

Based on data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the AA Driving School found that as of the end of January, 245 driving test centres, or three-quarters of them, still had average wait times longer than six weeks.

The wait times for over two-fifths were longer than five months.

Fitter for longer

The number of people over 70 with a full driving licence has surpassed six million for the first time.

Septuagenarians (between 70 and 79 years) with a full licence increased by more than 200k (226,526) between February 2023 and 2024.

Additionally, according to DVLA data, the number of people 80 and older who possess a complete driver’s licence has climbed by 139,000 in just one year to 1,788,280.

There are now a third more centenarians possessing complete UK driving licences than two years ago!

This is even though drivers reaching 70 must renew their licence every three years after that.

John Wilmot, CEO of LeaseLoco, says: “The number of licensed drivers on UK roads has reached an all-time high, underscoring the enduring popularity and convenience of car travel, especially among older individuals.

“For many seniors, owning a car serves as a vital link to social connection, a benefit particularly pronounced in rural areas where public transportation options may be limited or unreliable.”