Chart of the Month

Chart of the Month

There are significantly fewer ‘R-plates’ on our roads today than there were before the recession. The number of private car driving tests conducted in Northern Ireland peaked at 68,444 in 2008. This followed an increase of 28% between 2005 and 2008. Following five years of decline, with a cumulative fall of 37% (or 25,511 tests) driving tests hit a low of 42,933. An R-plate recovery now appears to have taken hold with 2014 posting the first rise in 6 years. Despite the modest 2% rise (+989 tests), last year’s total remains 36% (24,522) below the 2008 peak. The number of individuals aged 17-24 years of age also peaked in 2008 and has been falling ever since. This age-group accounts for the vast majority of driving tests. Even allowing for demographic changes it is clear that economic factors largely explain the decline. The 18-24 years of age cohort have borne the brunt of the downturn in terms of pay cuts and unemployment. For many, learning to drive is not a necessity.  The preponderance of R-plates can therefore be viewed as a visible sign of consumer confidence amongst the younger generation.

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