5 Young drivers |
45. The exceptionally high cost of motor insurance
for young drivers was one of the main reasons why we undertook
our inquiry. While we accept that insurance is provided on the
basis of detailed risk assessments not all young drivers behave
recklessly behind the wheel and many safe, young drivers are penalised
because of the actions of those who are involved in accidents.
In addition, as the previous Government acknowledged, "most
young drivers do not intentionally engage in high-risk behaviour
but are hampered by a lack of experience and poor self-assessment".
We were therefore keen to explore what action young drivers could
take to indicate to insurers that they are safe and skilled; and
how the Government could assist with this and raise the standard
of driving amongst young people.
What should the Department do?
46. We received a number of suggestions of action
the Government could take to ensure that young drivers were safer
and better equipped with the full range of driving skills. The
ABI called for a minimum one-year learning period for drivers
and argued that "newly-qualified drivers aged under 20 should
be limited to carrying no more than one passenger aged under 20
during the first six months of driving".
Cadence Driver Development advocated a two-tier licensing system
in which novice drivers would hold a restricted licence for two
years, at the end of which time there would be a further test.
Edmund King, President of the AA, argued that there ought to be
a greater focus on road safety in the school curriculum.
We also questioned witnesses about the desirability of increasing
the minimum driving age.
47. The Department for Transport ruled out "additional
regulation" in this area, which it argued would "bear
down even on those who want to be safe and responsible" and
which might have perverse consequences.
It said it was "working on measures to improve driver training
and testing, and is considering whether further measures should
The Minister said that the Department was considering:
- pre-driving tests for 14 to
16 year olds, "to get them more aware at school as to the
sort of pressures they are going to be under and the sort of skills
they are going to need before they start taking their driving
- changing the driving test, to "make it more
difficult and more suitable for the skills they are going to need
once they pass the test". This would include making candidates
navigate their own route during the test;
- looking at ways of training learner drivers in
motorway driving and other aspects of "independent driving";
- replacing the unsuccessful Pass Plus advanced
driving course for novice drivers with other means of enabling
such drivers to show insurers that they are safe,
48. Many of these issues were under consideration
when our predecessors published a Report on novice drivers in
2007. In response
to that Report, the then Government said that the need for modernisation
of the driving test was "pressing" and that it was committed
to "fundamental reform of driver training and testing".
The debate does not appear to have moved on, despite the continuing
appalling accident rate for young drivers. The Government's claim
that it does not wish to bear down on the responsible by introducing
more stringent requirements on novice drivers is somewhat hollow
if this stance contributes to higher premiums for young drivers,
who are consequently unable to afford to drive.
49. We welcome
the Minister's commitment to making the driving test more rigorous,
exploring other ways of ensuring that young drivers are fully
trained before they are licensed, and to making an advanced driving
course available which can effectively signal to insurers that
drivers who have completed it are safer. Many of these ideas were
discussed in our predecessors' Report into novice drivers. The
Minister's commitment must now be backed up by a consultation
document setting out the measures the Government wishes to explore,
a timetable for implementing any legislative and procedural changes,
and an indication of likely costs and how they will be budgeted
for. We recommend that the Government publish such a document
within the next six months, with a view to implementing changes
to the driving tests and other measures during this Parliament.
We will pay close attention to the Government's proposals.
What can insurers do?
50. One consequence of the high accident rate amongst
young drivers is that the market for insurance for young drivers
"is less competitive" so "young drivers have less
The Department shared this concern, which it attributed to the
high cost of long-term medical care arising from serious accidents
involving young drivers.
BIBA suggested that better signposting of brokers specialising
in policies for young drivers might help alleviate this problem
but the ABI was unconvinced.
51. There were various references in the evidence
we received to new technology which could be fitted in cars to
assess how they were driven and thereby influence the premiums
offered to drivers.
However, ESVA questioned why the 'first wave' of such 'black box'
technology had not achieved better market penetration.
The Department said it would "work with the insurance industry
on whether new insurance products can be developed, with discounts
where young drivers have chosen enhanced training pre- and/or
post-test; or are happy to accept in return restrictions such
as not driving at night".
52. Insurers clearly have a part to play in helping
young drivers find affordable insurance, without compromising
the risk assessments on which insurance is based. Given the importance
of this issue from a public policy perspective, we
recommend that the Department for Transport facilitate investigation
of effective means of deploying and publicising new technology
which can assess how cars are driven by young drivers and thereby
provide more information on which risk assessments can be made.
For example, we suggest that the Department could host a conference
on this issue involving all relevant parties, during the summer,
and establish and participate in an industry working group on
how this technology can be most effectively used.
125 The Road Haulage Association submitted evidence
on the impact of high premiums on young HGV drivers - Ev w23-24. Back
Transport Committee, Eleventh Special Report, 2006-07, Novice
Drivers: Government Response to the Committee's Seventh Report
of Session 2006-07, HC 1051, (hereafter Government response
to Novice Drivers) response to recommendation 3. Back
Ev 52 paragraph 4.1, Ev 71-72 paragraph 3.12 and Ev w9. Back
Ev w1-4. Aviva also called for a "complete revamp of driver
training", Ev w26 paragraph 2.3 and see Ev 46 paragraph 1.9. Back
Qq 155-56, 269. Back
Ev 74. Back
Seventh Report, 2006-07, Novice Drivers, HC 355. Back
Government response to Novice Drivers, responses to recommendations
1 and 45. Back
Ev 62 paragraph 3.2. Back
Ev 74. Back
Ev 72 paragraph 5.3, Ev 74 paragraph 1.3 and Q127; and Q133 Back
Qq 37, 56, 74, Ev 58 paragraph 7.2, Ev 63 paragraph 3.9, Ev w6
paragraphs 4.1-4.4, Ev w37 and Ev w40-41. Back
Ev 75. Back
HC Deb, 7 Feb 11, c57W. Back