ABI Calls for New Restrictions on Younger Drivers

October 4, 2012

The Association of British Insurers is urging a review of the regulations for younger (17 to 24 year-old) drivers, including some new strictures that would require “a minimum one year learning period, restrictions on night time driving and lowering the alcohol limit for driving.”

The ABI said the changes are needed to “reduce the high crash risk young drivers face and to lower their motor insurance costs.” The ABI’s report – Improving the Safety of Young Drivers – points out that only one in eight licensed drivers in the UK “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.”

The ABI said its “research shows that over a quarter (27 percent) of motor personal injury insurance claims over £500,000 [$810,000] 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 also examines 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 urging the adoption of 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.

The ABI is also backing a restriction that would prohibit young drivers for the first six months after they obtain a license to drive between 11pm at night and 4am, with an exception for those who are driving “to their workplace or in connection with education.”

During the proposed graduated phase blood alcohol limits would be significantly lowered as well; in effect there would be nearly “a zero limit as it would only allow for the consumption of alcohol linked to products such as mouthwash,” the ABI said.

Otto Thoresen, ABI’s Director General, commented: “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.”

Source: Association of British Insurers

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