Call for change in how young drivers learnABI wants a safer start for young motorists

04 October 2012

Young driver

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is proposing radical measures to overhaul the way young people learn to drive.

The measures, such as a minimum one-year learning period, restrictions on night-time driving and lowering the alcohol limit for driving, are designed to reduce the high crash risk young drivers face and to lower their motor insurance costs.

Younger drivers more likely to be in fatal accidents

In the UK only one in eight driving licence holders are aged 25 or under, yet one in three who die on our roads is aged under 25. An 18 year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash than a 48-year-old driver. These statistics mean that younger drivers pay much higher car insurance rates.

‘Improving the Safety of Young Drivers' by the ABI gives evidence of why urgent action is needed to help young drivers. ABI research shows that over a quarter (27%) of motor personal injury insurance claims over £500,000 resulted from a crash involving a driver aged 17-24. Young drivers are far more likely to be involved in crashes involving three to five high value bodily injury claims, reflecting the increased risk they face of having a serious crash while carrying passengers.

The ABI is calling for the following measures to improve the safety of young drivers:

  • A minimum 12-month learning period before taking the driving test to enable young learner drivers to gain more supervised practice.
  • A ban on taking an intensive driving course as the sole means of learning drive.
  • The lowering of the age at which young people can start learning to drive to age 16 and a half.
  • Graduated driver licensing. This would include restrictions on the number of young people that can be carried by a young driver in the first six months after passing their driving test, reflecting the fact that the crash risk increases significantly with young passengers in the car.

Radical action required to help young drivers

Otto Thoresen, ABI's Director General, said: 'Radical action is needed to reduce the tragic waste of young lives on our roads, especially among the 17-24 age group. A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs.

'We have all side-stepped this issue for too long. Northern Ireland is introducing reforms, and politicians in Westminster should follow their lead in introducing meaningful reform to help today's young drivers become tomorrow's safer motorists.'

Which? insurance analyst Paul Davies added: 'The safety of young drivers is a prime concern and any measures that can improve the driving performance of younger motorists should be welcomed. The outcome should be that claims rates fall and premiums therefore become more affordable. Innovations such as black box insurance should also help teach younger drivers to operate in a sensible manner.'

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