Cars and Young People

The ABI – the Association of British Insurers – which is the trade organisation for insurance companies – has recently published a report ABI report aimed at improving the safety of Young Drivers. It recommends the following measures:

  • A minimum 12 month learning period before you sit your test
  • Banning intensive driving courses
  • The lowering of the age to 16 ½ for starting to drive
  • A graduated licensing scheme which would restrict numbers of young passengers that can be driven by a young driver during night time hours
  • A lowering of the blood alcohol concentration for drivers between 17-24

Anecdotally we all know that young drivers are more at risk as therefore are their passengers. Fatalities sadly do happen as the recent case, last month of the young Manchester City footballer, Courtney Meppen-Walter, illustrates – Guardian. In the North West we also live in a particularly dangerous area as a recent 2010 report covered here,  says that not only do we have Britain’s most dangerous road in the Cat and Fiddle A537,  but that 9 out of 10 of Britain’s most dangerous roads are in the North of England Daily Mail – 10 most Dangerous Roads !

The ABI report, using Department For Transport stats, makes the point that a young person is 5 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than a middle aged person. Brake, the Road Safety charity and campaign group, also make the point that Young Male Drivers are more at risk than Young Female Drivers, and staggeringly between the hours of 2-5 am they are Seventeen times more at risk than all other males drivers Brake on Young Drivers .

The Government response to the ABI has been somewhat muted with the Road Safety Minister Mike Penning saying in the Daily Mail : ‘Britain has some of the safest roads in the world and the majority of new drivers are safe and responsible.

‘To further improve safety we have made the driving test more realistic by introducing an independent driving element and have stopped the publication of test routes to stop candidates learning them by rote (heart).

‘We are also considering how to improve training for drivers after they pass their test, to help them develop their skills and confidence.

‘However, we do not propose placing any restrictions on new drivers as we do not want to unfairly penalise responsible young people who rely on driving to get to work or college.’

We agree with the Government on this largely. Also the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents also provide plenty of advice in this area – in their Young Drivers at work report – ROSPA on Young Drivers .

Our own view is that the problem needs to be looked at in the round, and that any measures taken on safety, should be part of a comprehensive Government policy on Young Drivers that covers not just vital safety issues but also addresses other major parental concerns to do with the cost of teenage driving which are principally insurance.  As the ABI report above states “ High motor insurance premiums for young drivers are the direct result of their poor safety record, and a result of the statistically higher risk that they will cause themselves, their passengers, or other road users severe and life-changing injuries  which can require a lifetime of care to be paid for from the original premium”.

It therefore follows that additional safety because it reduces risk must reduce premiums so let’s have an adult debate between Government, the Insurers, the Lawyers including APIL , safety organisations like ROSPA and Brake , the Motoring organisations, and consumer organisations like Which, who have sensible suggestions here on Teenage Car Insurance Which? , about how to improve safety and make the cost of motoring bearable!


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