Being able to drive is regarded as an important skill – overall more important than even being able to write or use a computer, according to new AA research.

More than two thirds (69%) of respondents put driving in the top three most important skills to have in an AA Populus Poll of 20,029*. This was slightly ahead of those who chose using a computer (67%) and being able to write (52%).

When asked to choose just one skill as the most important, writing came out on top (26%) just ahead of driving (24%).Other skills that were rated were:

Using a computer 18%;

First aid 18%;

Swimming 6%;

Foreign language 1%;

Playing musical instrument 1%;

Cycling 0% (just 51 people);

Being able to sing 0% (just 48 people);

None of the above 5%.

People in lower income households are far more likely to value driving (30%) as the most important skill compared to writing (17%). Whereas people in managerial and professional jobs are more likely to value writing (29%) over driving (22%).

Surprisingly driving was rated by twice as many over 65s as the single most important skill (34%) compared to those in the 18-24 age bracket (16%). Conversely, younger people were far more likely to think writing was the most important skill (33% of 18-24 and 40% of 24-34) compared to over 65s (16%).

Driving was rated as most important by 31% in Wales compared to just 14% in London. Londoners were also the most likely to think using a computer was the most important skill (25%) and the Welsh were the least (15%).

People in Yorkshire and the North West regions were the most likely to favour swimming as the most important skill (7%). They are almost twice as likely to value swimming than people from Northern Ireland (4%) and Scotland (4%). Given Yorkshire’s success as a county in the Olympics perhaps that is to be expected.**

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “We hear a lot about a generation who only aspire to be famous but these results show people of all ages still value traditional skills like writing, driving and using a computer more highly than playing an instrument or being able to sing.

“It will be interesting to see if the importance placed on sporty skills such as cycling and swimming will go up after the Olympics.

“Driving is a life skill that needs to be kept up to scratch – passing your test is only one more step along the way. Drivers need to make sure they continue to keep their skills refreshed so the can enjoy the benefits driving brings as safely as possible for as long as possible. As driving is such an important life skill the AA Trust offers free Drive Smart courses for new drivers at risk and free Drive Confident courses for nervous or rusty drivers.”