This is what Danique (23) of Dokkum told RTL Nieuws. She is one of more than 6,000 people who received their so-called driver’s license B78 this year, which is a driver’s license for an automatic machine. “First, I had a lot of lessons in a shift car. It was slow going, but in itself it’s good. I’ve made progress.”
Everything at once
I even had to hit the highway. “I had to insert, subtract, reverse, steer and shift gears. I couldn’t do it all at once.”
Danique already had at least 40 driving lessons, but he didn’t make much further progress. “My driving test was already scheduled and we couldn’t reschedule just because of the long waiting lists. So my instructor suggested getting an automatic driver’s license.”
“Breathing,” Danyek calls it. “I had two lessons a week then, and it went really fast. I hung up and trusted the car again. I passed my exam in one go.”
Why didn’t you go immediately to get a driver’s license? “I think there’s kind of a taboo, I always thought that was for old people or for people who aren’t good at it. I think less efficient drivers drive automatically.”
But now she sees it completely differently. “In ten years there will be no more pickups, so why make it so hard for yourself?”
Figures from CBR show that more and more people are choosing to get an automatic driver’s license. In 2016, more than 2,000 people took this driver’s license exam, and now that has tripled to over 6,000. In all, more than 145,000 people have taken the driving test this year.
CBR also notes that the average age of drivers who choose automatic transmissions is slowly decreasing. “This indicates that the target group is converting to a ‘more regular’ driver, averaging around 20,” a spokesperson said.
The chart below shows that the percentage of automated driving tests increases every year.
Share of the first driving tests automatically
Fully booked until November
At the Rijschool Kennedy in Amsterdam, they also noticed a significant increase in demand for driving lessons in an automatic machine. They have one vending machine among the school cars. “We’re fully booked for the coming weeks,” says Christian Lange, owner of a driving school. “If someone wants to take lessons in an automatic machine now, they won’t be able to come until November.”
Years ago, the driving school started with lessons on driving in an automatic machine. “Back then, it was the less talented people who got their driver’s license in the car. It was still kind of a taboo. You even got laughed at when you were driving an automatic.”
The fact that automatic transmissions have been looked down upon for so long is partly because these cars were less economical and slower than manual transmission cars. This is no longer the case in newer automatic cars.
Kennedy Driving School sees many international clients. “Many expats from the US and China have an automatic driver’s license. If they want to get their driver’s license here, they also go for an automatic driver’s license. In addition, a lot of electric cars are sold, so you no longer have to switch More future drivers to get an automatic driver’s licence.
Also at Veronica Traffic School in Utrecht they see more and more students who are consciously choosing a vending machine. “This has to do with the rise of the electric car,” says Ernest Alvares, owner of a driving school. He sees electric driving as becoming more and more natural for an increasing number of students. “How many parents of our students already own a hybrid or electric car?”
He expects that more people will choose the vending machine in the future. “The prices of driving lessons will continue to rise in the near future because of the price of gasoline. So you will see that more and more driving schools will switch to electric, and therefore automatic.”
According to Alvares, an automatic driver’s license is often a lot cheaper. “It takes an average of 10 to 12 driving lessons to learn a pair and switch. If you skip that, you can get your driver’s license faster and therefore cheaper.”
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