Nicola Sturgeon recently obtained her driving license at the age of 53. Many were curious as to why she waited so long to obtain it.
The ex-prime minister of Scotland has not made any further statements besides posting on Instagram that the experience has pushed her out of her comfort zone. She also expressed her hope that her news would demonstrate that it is never too late to try something new in life.
Exploring the complex web of statistics from the Department for Transport reveals possible explanations for Sturgeon’s cautious approach in adulthood, having chosen not to take on the responsibilities of driving as a teenager.
Based on the most recent data for Great Britain, during the time period between April 2021 and March of the previous year, 60% of 17-year-olds and 54.8% of 18-year-olds were successful in their practical driving tests.
The passing rate for the test decreases each year, as only 44.4% of 30-year-olds and 38.8% of 40-year-olds were successful.
For individuals who are of similar age as Sturgeon, it is concerning that the former SNP leader may not have been aware of this data before taking the test. The percentage of those who pass the practical test decreases to 35.2%.
The percentage for individuals aged 60 and above is 34%. Just like in the realm of politics, time was not on Sturgeon’s side.
According to the CEO of the Driving Instructors Association, Carly Brookfield, older individuals who decide to start driving later in life may encounter various difficulties. These include being more careful at junctions, potential physical limitations, and the addition of a satnav portion in the 2017 driving test, where candidates must navigate for up to 20 minutes.
Noel Gaughan, a 56-year-old driving instructor in London who has taught celebrities like Adele and Rhys Ifans, does not find these explanations convincing. After 30 years of experience, he believes that age should not be a concern when it comes to taking a driving test and that the main obstacle for older individuals is often psychological. Additionally, Gaughan notes that some instructors do not adjust their teaching methods to cater to the needs of their older clients.
“I believe that older individuals often have the mindset that they will need to do a lot of learning,” he stated. “While this can be a positive thing, as older drivers are more aware of potential dangers, it can also lead to the misconception that younger individuals have an endless amount of time. Older drivers have more life experience and tend to ask more questions, which I appreciate. However, for some, this belief can become overwhelming.”
I had a student, 67 years old, who had been studying for 20 years. Her previous teachers allowed her to use the wheel, but they were in charge of the brakes and gears. She had to forget everything she had learned before, but was able to pass the test after a month. The test only lasted 20 minutes and she passed. She was extremely excited because we had covered all the necessary skills, while her previous instructors had only taken her up the road.
After resigning as first minister, Sturgeon began taking driving lessons in March to learn how to operate an automatic and electric car. This decision was motivated by the fact that traditional unleaded and diesel cars are gradually being replaced. Sturgeon described this as a natural progression in her life.
In June, she successfully completed her theory test. The following day, Sturgeon was taken into custody and interrogated for seven hours as a potential suspect in a financial misconduct case involving the SNP. This occurred during her time as leader and her husband, Peter Murrell, served as managing director of the party. Both of them have denied any accusations of wrongdoing.