They only represent a small portion of drivers (2%) but yet, we have all been able to meet them on the roads: 770,000 people drive without a license today in France. According to this estimate ofNational interministerial road safety observatory (ONISR), relayed this Tuesday by The Parisian, their number continues to grow year after year.
These drivers in total violation of the highway code are above all proportionally very involved in road accidents. In 2020, 6% of drivers involved in fatal crashes did not have a driver’s license.
Several types of unlicensed drivers can be distinguished: those who have never tried or obtained it and those who have lost it, whether following a court conviction or a loss of their 12 points.
In any case, several factors push these drivers to hit the road without the precious sesame, for their work or their personal obligations. A choice fraught with consequences, since driving without a license is punishable by up to 15,000 euros in fines and one year in prison.
The permit, a high cost
1804 euros. This is the average cost of a driving license in France, according to a study UFC-What to Choose carried out in September 2016. The costs may of course have changed, in one direction or the other, since then. But it gives indications. It is more expensive to take your driving license in Paris than anywhere else. It is also very expensive in departments like Ain (1986 euros), whereas it is on the contrary cheaper to spend it in Drôme (1626 euros).
While cost may be one of the reasons unlicensed drivers get behind the wheel, there are ways to reduce it: allowed at 1 euro, use his personal training account, etc. Not to mention that prices tend to be pulled down for applicants who choose certain online platforms and courses given by independent instructors.
A limited success rate
Two in three unlicensed drivers are estimated to have never had one. Maybe because they never tried it. But maybe because they failed the exam one or more times. According to the figures of the last “Review of driving license exams”, published by Road Safety, the success rate for the B permit was 58.3%. A stable figure for ten years: in 2010, 57.2% of candidates had had their driving license.
It is even less for the highway code, which posted a success rate slightly higher than 50% in 2019. It was around 70% in 2016, before an overhaul of the questions which brought down the success rate. By May 2016, the day the new exam was implemented, this rate had dropped to 16.7%.
Both the code and the B license, however, remain less successful tests than the motorcycle or heavy goods vehicle license, and even national school examinations such as the certificate or the bac.
Several months of waiting to retake the exam
For the 40% of applicants who fail their license, having a chance to retake it is perhaps even more complex. A study carried out there also by UFC-Que Choisir revealed in 2017 that the waiting period was considerably reduced between 2014 (98 days on average) and 2016 (63 days).
The association noted all the same, despite the will of the government of the time to reduce these delays, significant disparities according to the departments: 98 days in Hauts-de-Seine against 40 days in Haute-Marne.
Between the overtime required and the wait due to the lack of slots or inspectors in relation to the number of candidates, the causes are multiple. But there seems to be a “Covid effect” which has accentuated this expectation, as evidenced by the numerous testimonies in the local press since the start of the health crisis. Patrick Mirouse, president of the National Union of Driving Teachers (Unidec), recalled last May for France 3 that the first confinement had a significant impact: “The driving schools were closed for ten weeks and the examinations only resumed one month after the reopening, and not at full speed at first”. Since then, it can sometimes take five or six months to take a second chance.
A small line in an annex to the 2022 finance bill, marked by Capital, had alerted motorists last October: the State plans to send 13 million letters of withdrawal of points on the driver’s license in 2023. An increase of 51% compared to 2019, a pre-Covid year. In 2023, the number of point return letters (11.5 million) could therefore be exceeded by withdrawal letters.
“While the National Safety Observatory itself declares that 770,000 road users today drive without a driver’s license, this unprecedented acceleration in the number of points that will be withdrawn will inevitably lead to a resurgence of this phenomenon. This is obviously not desirable, if the objective is to improve road safety, “said Nathalie Troussard, secretary general of the League for the Defense of Drivers, in a statement.
Limitation to 30 km / h in town, modification of speed limits and the arrival of radar cars could explain the increase in point withdrawals. This automatically risks increasing the number of drivers who lose their license. What about those who decide to continue driving despite this?