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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.”

Notes for Editors

1. Enquiries to:

Malcolm Tarling 020 7216 7410 Mobile: 07776 147 667

Linsey White 020 7216 7415 Mobile: 07885 998011

Sarah Bailey 020 7216 7514 Mobile: 07725 372636

Adeola Ajayi 020 7216 7521 Mobile: 07725 245284

2. The ABI is the voice of the UK’s insurance, investment and long-term savings industry. It has over 300 members, which together account for around 90% of premiums in the UK domestic market.

The ABI’s role is to:

- Be the voice of the UK insurance industry, leading debate and speaking up for insurers.

- Represent the UK insurance industry to government, regulators and policy makers in the UK, EU and internationally, driving effective public policy and regulation.

- Advocate high standards of customer service within the industry and provide useful information to the public about insurance.

- Promote the benefits of insurance to the government, regulators, policy makers and the public.

The UK insurance industry is the third largest in the world and the largest in Europe. It is a vital part of the UK economy, managing investments amounting to 26% of the UK’s net worth and contributing the fourth highest corporation tax of any sector. Employing over 290,000 people in the UK alone, the insurance industry is also one of this country’s major exporters, with 28% of its net premium income coming from overseas business.

Insurance and businesses protect themselves against the everyday risks they face, enabling people to own their own homes, travel overseas, provide for a financially secure future and run businesses. Insurance underpins a healthy and prosperous society, enabling businesses and individuals to thrive, safe in the knowledge that problems can be handled and risks carefully managed. Every day, our members pay out £147 million in benefits to pensioners and long-term savers as well as £60 million in general insurance claims.

3. An ISDN line is available for broadcasts.

4. More news and information from the ABI is available on our web site,

Last updated 14/11/2014