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Road Safety Week: How insurers are supporting “Drive less, live more”

Ben Howarth, Policy Adviser, Motor & Liability, ABI Ben Howarth, Policy Adviser, Motor & Liability, ABI

Road safety is a core issue for insurers. We want as few accidents as possible to happen on our roads, reducing injuries and damage and therefore bringing down car insurance premiums. However it’s a mistake to think our interest begins and ends with motorists.

This year’s theme for Road Safety Week, drive less live more, rightly looks at other ways of getting around, including by bike and on foot. Lower car usage is better for the planet, better for the health of individuals and, managed correctly, should reduce accidents involving all types of vehicle.

Encouraging more people to walk and cycle does partly depend on making these activities as low risk as possible, something insurers are anxious to see addressed. Cyclists are particularly vulnerable in that they usually have to share the road with vehicles. We believe there needs to be far better infrastructure to help look after them, in particular more specific cycle highways. Better road signage has a part to play, and improved crossing points for cyclists and pedestrians would also help.

We believe there needs to be far better infrastructure, in particular more specific cycle highways.

There is reason to be optimistic about vulnerable road users being safer in the future. With 90% of road traffic accidents caused by human error, autonomous vehicles have the potential to drastically improve road safety, and insurers are heavily involved in the projects which will make them a reality. While truly driverless cars will take years to reach our roads en masse, there’s already been good progress with automatic features which will help prevent collisions.

Insurers have thrown their weight behind autonomous emergency braking, incentivising manufacturers to invest in it by putting vehicles which have it fitted as standard into a cheaper insurance class. This technology detects obstructions and forces vehicles to brake where the driver is not responding quickly enough, reducing the number and severity of accidents.

Looking at road safety issues more widely, one of the ABI’s priorities is to reduce the number of serious accidents involving young drivers. A shocking 40% of 17 year old males have an accident in their first 6 months of driving. Key to our proposed solution is a longer learning period, which would allow more opportunity to properly educate new drivers about reducing risks, including where pedestrians and cyclists are concerned.

Ben Howarth is Policy Adviser for Motor and Liability at the ABI

Last updated 29/06/2016