Vehicle Licensing and Registration

(See appendix for regional breakdown below)

  • The number of vehicles licensed in the UK and the number of newly registered vehicles is increasing year on year (see appendix for regional figures):
    Year Number of
    licensed Vehicles
    Number of newly
    registered vehicles
    1903
    1920
    1946
    1956
    1966
    1976
    1986
    1996
    2001
    17,000
    591,000
    3.1 million
    6.3 million
    12.0 million
    17.3 million
    21.7 million
    26.3 million
    29.7 million
    No data available
    No data available
    No data available
    751,000
    1.5 million
    1.8 million
    2.3 million
    2.4 million
    3.1 million
  • In 1951 only 14% of British households had a car, with 1% owning two cars. By 1969 this figure had increased to 45% for one car and 6% for two cars. Currently 46% of households own one car, 22% two cars and 5% three or more cars.
  • Almost 1/3 of households buy another car as a result of a teenager/young adult passing their driving test.
  • 71% of adults in Britain now hold a full driving licence – that’s 32.3 million people.
  • Male drivers still outnumber women drivers with 82% of men holding a valid licence compared to 60% of women. This has increased dramatically since 1976 when only 29% of women held a licence compared to 69% of men.
  • In 2001/02 DVLA processed 81.7 million vehicle transactions and 16.1 million driver transactions.
  • Blue is the most popular colour for motor cars with 6,302,346 currently licensed. This is closely followed by red at 5,693,327.

Drivers and Driving

  • Distance travelled by car per year has increased for the average British person by 11% over the period 1989/91 to 1999/01. In 1989/91 the average person would travel 4806 miles in their car per year, today, the average person travels approximately 5,350 miles.
  • Average trip lengths in cars have also increased since 1989/91 from 8.2 miles to 8.7 miles in 1999/2001 – an increase of 6%. In contrast the average length of all trips has increased by 13% over this period, from 5.9 miles to 6.7 miles.
  • 70% of GB citizens drive to work on a regular basis; the average journey time of 20 to 21 minutes has remained constant for all modes including cars.
  • The average number of journeys made by people in their cars has increased over the period 1989/91 to 1999/01 from 619 trips to 639 trips per person per year.
  • Car travel accounts for 4/5 of the total distance travelled by the UK population.
  • The number of driving tests conducted in the UK has decreased in the past 10 years from 1.8 million to 1.2 million. The pass rate for tests has also decreased from 51% in 1991 to 43% in 2002.
  • In Britain, we spend approximately nine days per year travelling by car.
  • 60% of car trips are taken by one person alone (as measured by single occupancy rate), and 36% are shared by two people.
  • 27% of household cars are 3 years old or less. 27% are more than 10 years old.
  • The average lifespan of a UK car is 14 years.

The Cost of Motoring

  • The average household spends £55.10 per week on their motor vehicle including insurance, taxation, petrol and servicing. That’s £2,865 per year per household – an increase of 61% over 10 years.
  • In 2000, 4,230,000 motor insurance claims were made at a cost of £7,078 million. An average of 17% of the motoring population make an insurance claim every year, an average payment of £1,673. This is an increase of 5.9% in cost terms over the past 10 years, however frequency of claims has reduced by 2.9%.
  • In 1971 the best-selling family car was an Austin Morris 1300 at a price of £931, the 2001 equivalent was the Ford Focus costing £12,710.

Historical Overview

  • The Motor Car Act 1903 introduced measures to help identify vehicles and their drivers. County Councils and County Borough Councils were made Registration and Licensing Authorities; the vehicle registration fee was twenty shillings and the drivers licence fee was five. The speed limit was raised to 20mph.
  • The Roads Act 1920 required Councils to register all vehicles at the time of licensing and to allocate a separate number to each vehicle. People were also required to notify the local council when they bought a vehicle. The term ‘owner’ was replaced by ‘keeper’ on a vehicle logbook.
  • The Road Traffic Act 1930 abolished the 20mph speed limit and set a variety of limits for different classes of vehicle. There was no speed limit for vehicles carrying less than seven persons.
  • Motor Vehicles Regulations 1935 saw the introduction of driving competency tests for all persons who commenced driving on or after 1 April 1934. These were suspended in 1939 for 7 years due to the Second World War and in 1956 for 1 year due to the Suez crisis.
  • By the 1960s active driver’s records had reached 14.9 million and 12.9 million vehicles were registered. The Government decided that a new system of data processing was needed in order to keep track of drivers and vehicles. So, in 1965 the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centrewas planned to meet this need with the headquarters in Swansea, supported by 81 Local Vehicle Licensing Offices.
  • The first computer produced driving licence was produced in 1973.
  • In 1976 DVLC introduced the first ’till 70′ full driving licence.
  • The 1982 Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulation Act came into force on 31 January 1983.
  • Lead-free petrol was introduced in 1987, and in 1989 the introduction of associated tax advantages signalled its widespread use. In January 2000 leaded petrol became obsolete.
  • June 1999 saw the introduction of a reduced rate of VED for cars with an engine size of 1100cc and below. This threshold has subsequently been increased to 1549cc.
  • In a bid to help the environment, in 2001 DVLA introduced Graduated Vehicle Excise Duty where VED payable on new cars was based on their CO2 emissions and fuel type.

Sources

1. Commission for Integrated Transport Statistics.

All other information taken from information supplied by Department for Transport.

Motor vehicles licensed by taxation class (2001)

County, region and local authority
( UA = Unitary Authority )
Thousands
Body type: cars
Great Britain 23,898.8
Vehicle Under Disposal 359.0
County Unknown 41.3
England 20,568.9
North Eastern Region 821.3
Darlington UA 36.2
Durham 167.8
Hartlepool UA 26.5
Middlesbrough UA 40.1
Northumberland 120.7
Redcar And Cleveland UA 48.7
Stockton-On-Tees UA 65.9
Tyne And Wear Metropolitan Area 315.3
Yorkshire And Humberside Region 1,817.5
East Riding Of Yorkshire UA 135.9
Kingston Upon Hull UA 66.2
North East Lincolnshire UA 54.4
North Lincolnshire UA 64.5
North Yorkshire 260.2
South Yorkshire Metropolitan Area 429.8
West Yorkshire Metropolitan Area 738.9
York UA 67.5
East Midland Region 1,773.7
Derby UA 91.1
Derbyshire 317.5
Leicester City UA 105.0
Leicestershire 276.9
Lincolnshire 285.5
Northamptonshire 303.0
Nottingham UA 72.9
Nottinghamshire 305.4
Rutland UA 16.3
East Of England Region 2,546.1
Bedfordshire 175.2
Cambridgeshire 265.3
Essex 616.0
Hertfordshire 554.6
Luton UA 63.9
Norfolk 371.3
Peterborough UA 63.4
Southend-On-Sea UA 64.1
Suffolk 312.9
Thurrock UA 59.4
South Eastern Region 3,885.0
Bracknell Forest UA 66.1
Brighton And Hove UA 81.5
Buckinghamshire 257.3
East Sussex 219.9
Hampshire 631.4
Isle Of Wight UA 55.5
Kent 586.5
Medway UA 100.9
Milton Keynes UA 133.2
Oxfordshire 279.9
Portsmouth UA 64.9
Reading UA 60.1
Slough UA 100.1
Southampton UA 79.8
Surrey 552.6
West Berkshire UA 90.1
West Sussex 377.6
Windsor And Maidenhead UA 71.9
Wokingham UA 75.8
London Region 2,378.8
South Western Region 2,350.0
Bath And North East Somerset UA 71.2
Bournemouth UA 68.1
Bristol UA 158.6
Cornwall And Isles Of Scilly 219.4
Devon 326.2
Dorset 192.8
Gloucestershire 266.5
North Somerset UA 89.2
Plymouth UA 85.9
Poole UA 66.2
Somerset 234.2
South Gloucestershire UA 117.3
Swindon UA 191.9
Torbay UA 51.7
Wiltshire 210.9
West Midland Region 2,361.5
Herefordshire UA 80.3
Shropshire 131.5
Staffordshire 361.0
Stoke On Trent UA 78.2
Telford And Wrekin UA 63.1
Warwickshire 252.5
West Midlands Metropolitan Area 1,133.6
Worcestershire 261.4
North Western Region 2,635.1
Blackburn With Darwen UA 43.8
Blackpool UA 46.1
Cheshire 315.9
Cumbria 212.6
Greater Manchester Metropolian Area 1,028.4
Halton UA 44.3
Lancashire 446.4
Merseyside Metropolitan Area 414.8
Warrington UA 82.8
Scotland 1,821.1
Aberdeen City UA 78.3
Aberdeenshire UA 102.5
Angus UA 44.2
Argyll And Bute UA 34.2
City Of Dundee UA 41.7
City Of Edinburgh UA 169.4
City Of Glasgow UA 148.3
Clackmannanshire UA 17.7
Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar UA 9.6
Dumfries And Galloway UA 58.9
East Ayrshire UA 40.3
East Dunbartonshire UA 43.8
East Lothian UA 34.5
East Renfrewshire UA 36.7
Falkirk UA 54.0
Fife UA 131.6
Highland UA 82.6
Inverclyde UA 25.7
Midlothian UA 30.2
Moray UA 34.9
North Ayrshire UA 44.6
North Lanarkshire UA 98.3
Orkney Islands UA 7.9
Perth And Kinross UA 57.7
Renfrewshire UA 57.1
Shetland Islands UA 8.6
South Ayrshire UA 43.0
South Lanarkshire UA 103.3
Stirling UA 49.9
The Scottish Borders UA 45.9
West Dunbartonshire UA 27.1
West Lothian UA 58.7
Wales 1,108.4
Blaenau Gwent UA 21.2
Bridgend UA 48.0
Caerphilly UA 58.1
Cardiff UA 107.5
Carmarthenshire UA 69.7
Ceredigion UA 29.2
Conwy UA 46.3
Denbighshire UA 37.2
Flintshire UA 66.3
Gwynedd UA 46.2
Isle Of Anglesey UA 29.7
Merthyr Tydfil UA 16.2
Monmouthshire UA 39.9
Neath Port Talbot UA 46.1
Newport UA 48.3
Pembrokeshire UA 48.3
Powys UA 56.5
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff UA 75.0
Swansea UA 87.5
The Vale Of Glamorgan UA 49.8
Torfaen UA 32.8
Wrexham UA 48.9