The pressure of the driving license among young people

Louis, 20, lives with his parents in Val-d’Oise. Thanks to his job, he was able to save money… but it won’t be for the permit. “What use would that be to me? he justifies himself. There’s the RER, the train, carpooling, cycling…” Like him, more and more young people are shying away from the car or getting into it later and later. A trend that began in 2017 when already only 39% of 18-20 year olds had their license, while in 2012 nearly 75% obtained it before their 20th birthday1. “Before, it was the Holy Grail, the first adult thing we did, pure joy! remembers Pascale, who, at 19, drove her first car. But when will my 23 year old daughter understand that it is essential! she wonders. This also embarrasses Isabelle, mother of Louis, recalcitrant. “Independence, freedom, adventure, road trips… Young people no longer dream? she worries. For Bernard, whose three children, aged 22 to 27, don’t have a license – the eldest is just starting to get started – it’s above all a brake on employment: “My son missed a job because of it. I don’t understand what’s going on with this B permit, less coveted and today more difficult to get than the baccalaureate! »

A France cut in two

Fanny, 19, confirms that she does not fantasize about the autonomy of “know-how to drive” nor about beautiful bodywork. “To a Porsche, I much prefer an electric scooter. Sign of the times… The bling-bling is over. For Laurent Barria, marketing director at Citroën, “young people have a different relationship with the car, just as they have a different relationship with the meat industry”. When they want to drive, they turn to electric vehicles without a license, scooters, bicycles or the Friend, this cart on sale at Fnac or at Darty, which can be driven from the age of 14 with only a two-wheel license. (AM or BSR with seven hours of training, from €150). “The ecological commitment of some young people and the success of new forms of mobility are turning them away from the classic car,” confirms sociologist David Le Breton2. For many, this one is a sham, it pollutes, is expensive to buy, in petrol, in insurance, in parking… ” Arguments from city dwellers for Yanis, 22, who lives in a small village in Hérault . “We need the license and a road car so as not to depend on our parents”, he annoys, denouncing a cleavage between the “anti”, necessarily more virtuous, because they would be more concerned about the planet, and others. Young rural people or those who live in medium-sized towns would find it all the more difficult to bear the condescension of their peers in the megalopolises since the permit is often inaccessible to them. Today, 48% of 18-24 year olds shrink from an estimated cost of €1,800 on average. “I don’t yet have the means to pay for it,” confirms Yanis, who has just submitted his application to a “social” driving school.

A new platform for 2023

It should complete its deployment throughout the country at the beginning of the year: RDV Permis, the new registration platform accessible on, allows you to reserve your access to the exam electronically, whether one is a free candidate or not, with the same number of places reserved for each. This resets the counters between traditional driving schools (which mainly occupied these places) and those online, such as En Voiture Simone, Lepermislibre, Stych, Ornikar or Cours2conduite, which offer prices 30 to 60% cheaper.

The fear of failure, a real obstacle

But the price is not the only obstacle. There is also fear. At 26, Julie hit the road the first time, but never drove again. “A peak! I’m paralyzed… The accident prevention campaigns have traumatized me,” she explains. “What anguish! exclaims Roman, 32, for his part. He took it four times to pass the exam. It must be said that nearly one out of two candidates misses it on the first try1, so the fear of failure discourages more than one – the bill also increases with the number of hours of driving. Not to mention the disproportionately long passage times. “The Covid-19 has created a monumental stopper, points out Romain Durand, director of the online driving school Lepermislibre. Between 300,000 and 400,000 candidates were waiting for a date after the first confinement, when there was already a chronic shortage of inspectors and an examination system locked down by traditional driving schools. As a result, it is impossible to obtain slots to stand as a free candidate. » Cumulative diffculties that the new license players seek to circumvent with their driving schools on the Internet. “We formed a common front and seized the Council of State to obtain equal access for all, declares Edouard Rudolf, founder of En Voiture Simone, member, with Lepermislibre and Ornikar, of the Fenaa4 association. Result: a new national platform was born to streamline procedures.

We decode

Enroll in a “social” driving school People under 25 in great difficulty, as part of an integration program and in certain municipalities, can benefit from one of these driving schools, also known as “associative” or “solidarity”. Info. at his local mission.

Mention “automatic gearbox” Since 2017, with only thirteen hours of driving lessons and an easier exam, you can get a B license without having to stop. Later, you can transform this license to drive with a manual gearbox by following seven hours of additional lessons, without having to retake the exam.

A maturity indicator

“This should bring young people back to the permit, believes Edouard Rudolf, who recalls that this is officially a certificate of proficiency, in other words a diploma, sometimes the only one on a CV. Under no circumstances should it become a luxury product,” he adds. As for the car, even decried, it could quickly regain its symbolic function: this transitional object “which reassures, gives a container, allows you to go from one place to another without dilemma”, describes David Le Breton. It is this big shift that tells Etienne, a 26-year-old Parisian who, to work, had to take the plunge. “Today, I can’t do without my car, I feel good there, I have my music… The journey time is like a transition, whereas if I take public transport, I feel at work already! “Having the license remains an indicator of maturity, confirms David Le Breton, “one of those last rites of passage to adulthood”. This is probably also why young people slow down, and why parents insist so much. Moreover, passing the test has never been such an event, because now we exult as much as they proclaim: “I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” A new life begins. You also had to want to accelerate at the right time…

1. OpinionWay survey for Point S. 2. Author of the book young people at the wheel, Eres. 3. Annual report among 18-24 year olds, Ministry of the Interior, at 4. Federation of Teachers and Driving Schools of the Future.

The pressure of the driving license among young people