General Insurance Article - A safer start for young drivers

 ABI calls for an overhaul in how young people learn to drive

 Radical measures, such as a minimum one year learning period, restrictions on night time driving and lowering the alcohol limit for driving, are now needed to reduce the high crash risk young drivers face and to lower their motor insurance costs according to a report published today (4 October) by ABI.

 In the UK only one in eight driver 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.
 ‘Improving the Safety of Young Drivers’ provides further 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 between 17-24. Young drivers are far more likely to be involved in crashes involving 3-5 high value bodily injury claims, reflecting the increased risk they face of having a serious crash while carrying passengers.

 The report looks at how other countries tackle the issue, including the use of graduated licensing in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Northern Ireland is planning to introduce a similar system.

 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 drivers 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.
 It would also include, during the first six months, restrictions on young drivers driving between 11pm at night and 4am. There would be an exemption, allowing young drivers to drive to their workplace or in connection with education.
 During the graduated phase there would be a lower blood alcohol driving limit. This would, in effect, be a zero limit as it would only allow for the consumption of alcohol linked to products such as mouthwash
 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.”

 Nigel Bartram, senior motor underwriter at Aviva, said: "More than 3,300 young drivers or passengers aged 17-24 are killed or seriously injured on our roads every year with 17-20 year old male drivers almost ten times more likely to be victims than more experienced drivers. These are shocking statistics which highlight the need for more to be done to address road safety among younger drivers and help reduce accidents.

 "We believe there should be a minimum 12-month learning period as well as a lower provisional licence age of 16 and a half, both of which would allow young drivers to gain more driving experience before taking their test. We would also like to see a ban on so-called ‘crash learning courses' which leave drivers ill-equipped to cope with the rigours of driving on today's roads."

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