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Insurers call for tougher laws for young drivers

A newly qualified driver in her carNewly qualified drivers should face much tougher restrictions on when they are allowed on to the roads, according to the body which represents the UK’s insurance firms.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) used its motor conference this week to set out plans designed to cut accidents among young drivers.

These include a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving among the under 25s, night-driving restrictions, and a graduated-licensing scheme which would force learners to take lessons for a minimum period of 12 months before sitting their driving test.

The organisation is also calling for a second driving test to be obligatory two years after the first test is passed.

High casualty rates

The ABI said that 18 people a day were killed or injured in accidents that involved drivers under 25.

ABI director general Otto Thoresen said: “Young drivers continue to make up a disproportionate number of road casualties. Five years ago we called for measures such as a minimum learning period to tackle this tragic waste of life.

“Insurers are actively helping young drivers through the increasing use of telematic ‘black box’ systems that reward safer driving. But we cannot do this alone. So I reiterate our call to the Government to work with us to tackle this issue.”

Charity support

The proposals echo suggestions made by road-safety charity Brake earlier in the year.

At the time, Brake’s campaigns director Julie Townsend told  “Young drivers and their behaviour hold the key to the future extent of carnage on roads. These crashes account for a quarter of all road deaths and serious injuries. There is compelling evidence that graduated driver licencing would reduce these appalling casualties, and help protect young people from the biggest danger they face.”

Dissent among insurers

Not all companies were in full support of the ABI, however. The AA said that night-time bans or different rules on drink-driving would be difficult to implement.

AA Insurance director Simon Douglas said: “The suggested night driving ban up to age 25 is just not practical. It would alienate young people who rely on their car to drive to or from late-shift work or who find themselves having to drive at night for other practical reasons.

“It would be almost unenforceable without police routinely stopping drivers to see how old they are.”

Douglas said that wider use of black-box technology to assess whether youngsters are driving responsibly, and set insurance premiums accordingly, was a better solution.

“The system will encourage new drivers to drive less aggressively and within the law, and benefit from reducing car insurance premiums,” he explained.

“Aggressive drivers, on the other hand, will be penalised with higher premiums. A home computer ‘dashboard’ enables drivers to analyse their performance and apply the lessons learned to their driving style.”

Andy Goldby at Direct Line added: “We believe a combination of education, legislation and technology are required to reduce the number of young people killed or injured on UK roads, including education within schools covering peer pressure and the realities of irresponsible driving.”

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris

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