After obtaining her driver’s license at the young age of 53, many questioned why Nicola Sturgeon waited so long to do so.
The ex-Prime Minister of Scotland has not provided any further statements, except for a post on Instagram where she mentioned that the experience has pushed her out of her comfort zone. She also expressed hope that her announcement would serve as an example that it is never too late to try something new in life.
Exploring the complex and intricate statistics presented by the Department for Transport reveals some logical justifications for Sturgeon’s cautious approach in adulthood, following her choice not to take control as a teenager.
Based on the most recent data from Great Britain, in regards to individuals who took a practical driving test between April 2021 and March of the previous year, 60% of 17-year-olds and 54.8% of 18-year-olds successfully passed their test.
The passing rate on the test decreases each year, with only 44.4% of 30-year-olds and 38.8% of 40-year-olds passing.
For those of Sturgeon’s age – and it must be hoped that the data was not known to the former SNP leader before she took the test – the proportion who pass the practical crashes to 35.2%.
The percentage for individuals over 60 years old is 34%. Similar to the political realm that Sturgeon is familiar with, time was not on her side.
Carly Brookfield, the chief executive of the Driving Instructors Association, said there were a number of challenges that older candidates faced after belatedly deciding to hit the road, ranging from their more cautious approach to junctions, possible physical impairments and the satnav part of the test launched in 2017, in which a candidate is asked to follow directions for up to 20 minutes.
Noel Gaughan, a 56-year-old driving instructor from Intensive Courses, is not convinced by these explanations. Gaughan has been teaching for 30 years in London and has had famous clients such as singer Adele and actor Rhys Ifans. He believes that there is no reason for older individuals to worry about taking a driving test and that the biggest obstacle for many is overcoming psychological barriers. Gaughan also notes that some instructors fail to adjust their teaching methods to cater to the specific needs of older clients.
According to him, many older learners believe they need to learn a lot. This is because older drivers are more conscious of potential risks, which is actually a good thing. On the other hand, younger individuals tend to have a sense of invincibility. Older drivers, having more life experience, tend to ask more questions, which is beneficial. However, for some people, the amount of information can seem overwhelming.
I worked with a 67-year-old student who had been learning for 20 years. Her previous teachers allowed her to use the wheel, but they were in control of the brakes and gears. She had to relearn everything, but after a month, she took the test and passed in just 20 minutes. She was ecstatic because we had covered all the necessary skills, while her previous instructors had only taken her up the road.
Sturgeon began taking driving lessons in March, following her resignation as first minister, in order to learn how to operate an automatic and electric vehicle. This decision was influenced by the fact that traditional unleaded and diesel cars are being gradually replaced. She viewed this as a necessary step in the next phase of 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 an investigation of financial misconduct within the SNP. This occurred during her time as leader while her husband, Peter Murrell, served as managing director of the party. Both deny any involvement in illegal activities.