Are young drivers throwing off “unsafe” stigma?

Road accident statistics involving young drivers fall more than 60% since 1990.

It has long been thought that through their inexperience, young drivers are the least safe on our roads.  Accident statistics certainly give the government and road safety charities such as Brake and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) cause for concern and do little to help bring the cost of car insurance down.  Those same statistics do, however, show that young drivers might be starting to buck the trend at last.

Reported road accidents down by two-thirds

Department for Transport figures relating to young car drivers aged 17 to 24, up to and including 2013, show that the number of reported road accidents relating to this age group has dropped by a staggering two-thirds, from a high of nearly 90,000 in 1990 to 30,000 in 2013.

Serious injuries falls 80% since 1982

The number of serious injuries has also fallen by a massive 80% from its peak of 6,054 serious injuries in 1982.  2013 saw the lowest recorded figure of 1,159 seriously injured young drivers.

Young drivers account for lowest rate of speeding offences

Young drivers have also recently shown themselves to be less likely to receive speeding offences than any older drivers.  A report by Car Keys has shown that only 2.14% of all young drivers aged 17 to 24 committed a speeding offence in the 12 months up to Sept 2016 and that this age group only accounts for 7.69% of all speeding offences in any age group in that time period.

These figures are certainly encouraging, but there are still a higher proportion of accidents involving young drivers than other age groups.  Young people account for approx. 7% of all full driving licence holders in Great Britain, yet they made up 18% of all drivers involved in reported road accidents in 2013.  This is further amplified when time spent in the car is taken into account.  Young motorists drive fewer miles than drivers aged over 25, accounting for only 5% of all vehicle miles in Great Britain.

The challenge in both the motoring and insurance industries is to identify the factors behind accidents in this age group and then to find ways to overcome them.


Statistically, female young drivers are just as likely to be involved in an accident as male young drivers; however most accidents involving female drivers result in minor or no injuries. As many as 75% of fatalities in this age group involve males. The reasons for this are uncertain, but it is thought that accidents involving male drivers are happening at higher speeds.

Night Time Driving

Even though young drivers generally drive fewer miles than their older counterparts, a higher proportion of the total distance driven is done at night time (6% as opposed to 3% for older drivers).

Research by the Department for Transport shows that the highest risk periods for accidents are from evening through to the early hours of the morning.  At these times volumes of traffic on the roads are relatively low and numbers of young drivers on the roads have been found to be relatively high compared with other age groups.

One explanation could be that there is a larger proportion of drink drivers at this time of night, perhaps moving faster and in a more reckless manner.

Drink Driving

Older drivers will remember a number of high profile, hard-hitting awareness campaigns outlining the dangers of drink-driving.  Somewhere along the line, this message does not seem to have yet got through to young drivers.  They still account for a quarter of all drivers killed in reported accidents who are over the legal alcohol limit. Sadly, this age group are between four and five times more likely to be in a drink-drive accident than their older counterparts.

Looking to a brighter future

Generally speaking, many of the recent indicators relating to young drivers’ habits are overwhelmingly positive and show that through a combination of government and charity awareness campaigns and improvements in driving instruction over the years, young drivers are becoming safer on our roads and more are staying alive and uninjured.

There is still a long way to go in making our young drivers aware of the dangers of issues such as drink driving and reckless behaviour that result in a careless driving conviction, or worse.  If this can be achieved, we will be able to keep more of our young drivers unharmed in the future and help them save money through increasingly lower premiums on their car insurance.

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Released On 28th Nov 2016

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