Driving licences

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • 74% of people aged 17 and over in England had a full driving licence on average in the 5 years 2014 to 2018
  • White people were consistently the most likely to have a full driving licence out of all ethnic groups, and Black people were least likely to
Things you need to know

The National Travel Survey has been the same since 2002, which means the data is very consistent.

Every year, 5 years' worth of data is combined and an average is worked out. For example, the data for the most recent period (2014/18) is an average of the data for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. This makes the data more reliable.

Differences between ethnic groups have not been tested for statistical significance. But the bullet points on this page only include findings about large differences.

Since 2013, the survey has only included respondents living in England. Before 2013, it also included residents of Scotland and Wales. To ensure the data on this page is consistent, it excludes any responses from residents of Scotland and Wales.

The number of respondents for each ethnic group in the 2014/18 period (before weighting) was:

  • Asian: 4,684
  • Black: 1,905
  • Mixed: 614
  • White: 59,498
  • Other: 759

There was a smaller number of respondents from the Mixed and Other ethnic groups. Avoid making any generalisations based on the results for these groups.

People from ethnic minority groups are more likely than White people to live in urban areas, where fewer people own and drive cars. For example, 98% of Black people and 97% of Asian people live in urban areas, compared with 79% of White people.

The data for ‘All ethnic groups’ includes people who did not give their ethnicity. In the data for 2014/18, 34 people answering this question (0.05%) did not state their ethnicity.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of people aged 17 and over in England with a full driving licence. That is, a licence that's valid in England, Wales and Scotland to drive a car, motorcycle, scooter or moped.

The data is broken down by ethnicity.

It includes people who were disqualified from driving but hold a full licence.

The ethnic categories used in this data

The number of people surveyed was too small to make reliable generalisations about specific ethnic groups. So estimates are shown for the following 5 broad groups:

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

2. By ethnicity

Percentage of people aged 17 and over holding a full driving licence, by ethnicity over time
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
2013/17 74 62 52 59 76 61
2014/18 74 62 52 59 76 61

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Driving licences By ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2014 and 2018, an average of 74% of people aged 17 years and over in England had a driving licence
  • 76% of White people had a driving licence (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups)
  • Black people were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to have a driving licence (52%)
  • between 2002/06 and 2014/18, the percentage of people with a driving licence went up from 71% to 74%
  • although the figures show a larger than average increase in the Mixed and Other ethnic groups, the number of respondents was too small to make reliable generalisations about them

3. Methodology

National Travel Survey respondents complete both a:

  • face-to-face interview
  • 7-day travel diary

This allows the Department for Transport to link travel patterns with individual characteristics.

The survey includes around 16,000 people in 7,000 households in England every year. It covers travel by people in all age groups, including children.

The data on this page only includes people who answered the question about whether they held a full driving licence.

Weighting:

Weighting adjusts the results of a survey to make them more reliable and more representative of the general population.

For example, if 25% of a survey's respondents are women, it won't reflect the views of the general population.

National Travel Survey responses are weighted to take account of different population demographics. They’re also weighted to take into account people who didn’t respond or didn’t complete their travel diary in full.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Values of fewer than 100 people or 300 trips (before weighting is applied) 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 614 and 759 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.

Rounding

Figures are rounded to the nearest whole percentage. The percentages shown in the tables were calculated using unrounded figures.

Related publications

Previous National Travel Survey reports are available.

Quality and methodology information

4. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Transport

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The National Travel Survey is designed to:

  • track long-term trends in personal travel
  • inform the development of policy

It is the main source of data on personal travel patterns by residents of England.

The survey collects information on how, why, when and where people travel. It also covers factors affecting people's travel habits (such as whether they have a car and driving licence).

5. Download the data

Driving licences - Spreadsheet (csv) 11 KB

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