Driving licences


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1. Main facts and figures

  • on average, 73% of people aged 17 years and over in England held a full driving licence between 2012 and 2016

  • in every period from 2002/06 to 2012/16, White people were more likely to hold a full driving licence than any other ethnic group, and Black people were least likely to

Things you need to know

The National Travel Survey has been run in the same way from 2002/06 to 2012/16. This means there is a high level of consistency in the data.

To increase the reliability of the data, the information is collected over a series of overlapping 5-year periods. The average for each 5-year period is then calculated.

This type of survey methodology increases the reliability of the data. However, tests for significant differences between ethnic groups have not been carried out. Commentary has been supplied for those findings where there are relatively large differences between ethnic groups or modes of transport.

Since 2013, the NTS has surveyed people living in England only, whereas previously it also included residents of Scotland and Wales. To ensure the data on this page is consistent, responses from residents of Scotland and Wales for the years up to 2013 have been excluded.

The number of respondents for each ethnic group in the 2012/16 period (before weighting was applied) was:

  • Asian: 4,708
  • Black: 2,007
  • Mixed: 681
  • Other: 852
  • White: 63,038

Because of the smaller number of respondents from the Mixed and Other ethnic groups, any generalisations based on the results for these groups should be used with caution.

People from ethnic minority groups are more likely than White people to live in urban areas, where fewer people own and drive cars. (The 2011 Census found that 98% of Black and Asian people lived in urban areas, compared to 80% of White people.)

The data for ‘All ethnic groups’ includes people who did not give their ethnicity. In the data for 2012/16, 35 people answering this question (0.05%) did not give their ethnicity.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of people aged 17 and over in England with a full driving licence, and breaks this information down by ethnicity.

In this case, a ‘full driving licence’ is a full driving licence valid in England, Wales and Scotland to drive either a car, or a motorcycle, scooter or moped.

The data includes people who gained a driving licence in another country, as long as that licence is valid in England, Wales and Scotland. People who were disqualified from driving but hold a full licence are also included.

The data comes from the Department for Transport’s National Travel Survey.

The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 5 broad groups:

  • Asian/Asian British
  • Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
  • Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
  • White
  • Other ethnic group

2. Driving licence holders by ethnicity

Percentage of people aged 17 years and over holding a full driving licence by ethnicity
Time All Asian Black Mixed White Other
% % % % % %
2002/06 71 58 51 54 73 54
2003/07 71 57 51 54 73 54
2004/08 72 57 51 53 74 53
2005/09 72 58 51 55 74 51
2006/10 72 58 50 57 74 54
2007/11 73 58 49 53 75 54
2008/12 73 58 50 55 75 55
2009/13 73 60 50 56 75 56
2010/14 73 60 51 56 75 59
2011/15 73 60 52 57 75 58
2012/16 73 61 53 60 75 59

Download table data for ‘Driving licence holders by ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Driving licence holders by ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Driving licences Driving licence holders by ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2012 and 2016, an average of 73% of people aged 17 years and over in England held a driving licence
  • in this period, 75% of White people, 61% of Asian people, 60% of people from a Mixed ethnic background, 59% of people from the Other ethnic group and 53% of Black people held a driving licence
  • for most ethnic groups, the percentage of people who held a driving licence remained broadly the same from 2002/06 to 2012/16; although the figures show a 6 percentage point increase in people with Mixed ethnicity with a driving licence, the numbers of people surveyed was too small to draw firm conclusions on the overall trend for this ethnic group

3. Methodology

The denominators are the weighted number of people aged 17 and over in the NTS in each ethnic group. The numerators are the weighted number of people aged 17 and over in the NTS who held a full driving licence in each ethnic group.

Only people who gave a valid answer to the question of whether they held a full driving licence are included in the data.

The NTS data collection consists of a face-to-face interview and a 7-day self-completed written travel diary, allowing travel patterns to be linked with individual characteristics. The NTS covers travel by people in all age groups, including children.

In 2013, the survey coverage changed from sampling residents of England, Wales and Scotland, to residents of England only. Approximately 16,000 individuals, in 7,000 households in England, participate in the NTS each year.


Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which has an even 50/50 split.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.

Responses to the NTS are weighted to take account of different population demographics, but are not grossed to England totals. They’re also weighted to take into account people who didn’t respond or didn’t complete their travel diary in full.

Statistics from the NTS were assessed during 2010 by the UK Statistics Authority. An assessment report (PDF opens in a new window or tab) (PDF) was published in October 2010. The statistics were confirmed as National Statistics in July 2011.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Values of fewer than 100 people or 300 trips (before weighting is applied) have been suppressed. ‘Suppression’ means the figures have not been included in the data, because the numbers involved are too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

For example, in the latest 5-year period, there were only 681 and 852 individuals in the 'Mixed' and 'Other' ethnic groups respectively, so the data does not support further detailed breakdowns as these estimates would be unreliable.

Where the size of the ethnic group population is small enough that an individual’s identity could be revealed, some other figures have also been excluded.


Figures are rounded to the nearest whole percentage. The percentages calculated in the tables are based on unrounded figures.

Related publications

Previous National Travel Survey reports are available.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources


Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics


Department for Transport

Publication frequency


Purpose of data source

The National Travel Survey (NTS) is a household survey designed to monitor long-term trends in personal travel and to inform the development of policy.

It is the primary source of data on personal travel patterns within England, Scotland and Wales by residents of England.

The survey collects information on how, why, when and where people travel as well as factors affecting travel (for example, car availability and whether people hold driving licences).

5. Download the data

Driving licences - Spreadsheet (csv) 9 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, numerator, denominator, sample size