January 3, 2014

Young Scots may or may not be walking a figurative 500 miles to freedom sometime later this year, but they’re unlikely to be driving there.

Amid fears that the growing costs of car ownership – and insurance in particular – are pricing a generation of Scots off the roads, Northern Britons look likely to be deserting motor transport for traditional modes of transport such as the Highland Pony, Shetland Pony, Galloway Pony and Shanks’s Pony.

Traditionalists might argue that this is a good thing too, as it will hasten the return of Scotland’s roads (both high and low) to a state of pre-industrial tranquility, as well as generating significant environmental and health benefits.

The Herald Scotland, however, worries that a significantly curtailed commuting range may prevent non-motorised young Scots from finding work – particular if, as currently anticipated, they soon face new restrictions, curfews, etc.

South of the border the number of 17 to 20 year olds bothering to take their driving test has fallen by a mere 18% in the past five years, whereas in Scotland that figure stands at a literally startling 28%. At this rate, by the middle of the current century, fewer than 1,000 young Scots will be taking their test each year.

“It is no real surprise,” comments Greig Neil, unflappable director of policy with dog-treats-to-driving-instruction conglomerate IAMSs, citing as “the main factor” insurance, the costs of which, the Herald reports, have risen by more than 80% since 2010 for drivers aged between 17 and 22.

Whatever the problems may be, he insists, learning to drive (at around £700 to £1,000) remains perfectly affordable. That cost may go up in future, however, he accepts, so the best thing would be if everyone started lessons as soon as possible, regardless of whether they can afford to do anything with their newly acquired skills.

Gavin Brownie of the Scottish Council of Instructors in Driving (SCID) goes further, warning that the growing number of young Scotts who are now putting off learning to drive until after they have graduated may discover to their cost that they have left it too late. “The older you are the harder it is to learn,” he warns.

King Edmond of the AA, is more pessimistic still and worries that the increasing costs of motoring could pose an existential threat to young Scots, terming rising insurance costs a “killer blow” for young drivers.

Probably a bit of an overreaction!

Return-Hill-Ansdell-L


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