Why an automatic-only driving licence could be the right decision

Detail on an automatic gear shift in a new car

Do you own an automatic-only licence? If yes, you aren’t alone.

Auto-only licence holders make up around 2.7% of all qualified drivers on Britain’s roads, and their decision to go automatic could be the right one.

The future is automatic

10 years ago, there were just 550,000 drivers with automatic licences, now there are 1.1 million. The biggest annual increase came in the last 12 months with an 11% year-on-year jump.

According to a recent survey from road safety charity IAM Roadsmart, the number of auto-only licence holders is likely to rise – around three in five 17-to-24-year-olds plan to get an automatic licence rather than a manual one.

The shift to automatic driving is a result of many factors, including the 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and the rise of electric vehicles.

As the number of EVs on the road continues to grow, the need for a manual gearbox is gradually becoming redundant.

Earlier this year, AA Driving School announced it had added more than 100 electric cars to its fleet of instructor vehicles to offer EV-specific lessons to learners. This means fewer new drivers will be legally qualified to select gears themselves, but, as the UK embraces more EVs, there will be less need for them to do so in the first place.

Changing with the times

Jessica Potts, head of marketing at BookMyGarage (a car repair and servicing website) said: “The rise in automatic-only driving licences over the past decade is no surprise when you consider the general shift towards EVs and hybrids, as well as the shift towards petrol and diesel cars equipped with automatic gearboxes.

“Some people may see the demise of the manual gearbox as a bit of a shame, but technology has moved on dramatically and now most automatics deliver improved fuel efficiency and driver convenience.”

Talking of driving licences, the DVLA are warning drivers to keep an eye on the expiry date. Here’s why.

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