Fall for second straight year; experts cite rising car prices and better public transport
Driving licence figures hit the brakes again

FEWER new drivers will be taking to the roads after the number of licences issued fell for the second year running.

Just over 74,000 were given out last year, down from 75,031 in 2010, Traffic Police figures show.

Analysts and transport experts who spoke to The Straits Times put the decline down to a range of factors including rising car prices, a better public transport system and changing priorities among the young.

Driving instructors say there has also been a drop in the number of people wanting to learn how to drive.

Mr Tony Kok, 54, estimates that 40 per cent fewer students have applied to be taught by him in Woodlands compared with last year.

The number of licences issued first fell sharply in 2010, when 75,031 were given out - down from 89,735 the year before.

Meanwhile, prices of certificates of entitlement - which drivers must bid for in order to own a vehicle - have been rising.

They hit $64,201 in April for cars up to 1,600cc and taxis - up from $44,000 in the same period last year.

This has caused a spike in the prices of bread-and-butter cars such as the Toyota Corolla Altis. The model cost $92,388 in April last year, but the price has now risen to $118,588.

Independent transport consultant Tham Chen Munn said reasons for the falling number of licences issued could include a more comprehensive rail system and changing attitudes.

'Priorities have changed,' he said. 'Those in their 20s now would focus more on their careers, and owning cars is expensive.

'It is no longer on the top 10 list of wants because it can be substituted by taking taxis, which can be cheaper than owning a car.'

He added that many of today's youth want instant gratification.

'I believe most feel it is not worth spending all that time and money because it is not guaranteed they will pass the first time.'

Learning to drive is an expensive affair. According to Mr Gerard Pereira of the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, it typically costs $1,500 to $1,800 to obtain a Class 3 licence on the first attempt.

There is also the effort involved in the process of getting a licence.

Information on the Singapore Police Force's website states that to do so, the applicant must pass the basic theory test before applying for a Provisional Driving Licence.

The next step is to enrol for driving lessons and then pass the final theory test before taking and passing the practical driving test.

Ms Melissa Koh, a 27-year-old senior marketing executive, said: 'Buying a car is expensive, and learning without the chance to drive is a waste of money since you don't often get to put into practice what you learnt if you don't have a car.'