/ Motoring, Parenting

Don’t drive youngsters off the roads

Young drivers looking depressed

As if young people aren’t charged enough for car insurance, insurers are now calling for some far-fetched restrictions on when and how they can drive. Why don’t they just focus on improving driving standards?

It seems to me that insurance companies are trying to shirk out of their responsibility for the risks they would have us believe they offer cover for.

Not content with demanding extortionate amounts of money from the under-25s, they’re now calling for even more restrictions to be imposed on them.

Too many restrictions for young drivers

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has called on the government to impose a number of restrictions on young drivers, including: a ban on driving between 11pm and 4am; a zero-alcohol limit; and a 12-month learning period during which they won’t be allowed to take a driving test.

In a rare ‘sensible’ move, the government announced last week that it would not impose any such restrictions on young drivers. My 22-year-old niece has struggled to find an insurer to cover her and enough money to pay for premiums, so I’m relieved the government has decided not to make things even tougher for her.

While I commend the notion of a zero-alcohol limit for all drivers, it would unfairly penalise young people if they weren’t allowed to drive themselves home after 11pm. In my early 20s I worked in a local pub, and would have been concerned about my own safety if I hadn’t been able to drive myself home after work. It is these, and many other jobs involving unsociable hours that are taken by under-25s.

Similarly, why should anyone who is adept enough to pass their test in less than 12 months be forced to carry on as a learner for longer?

Stop penalising and start improving standards

Instead of coming up with a list of restrictions, why doesn’t the insurance industry step up to the challenge of helping improve driving standards? Insurers could provide sizeable discounts for those who take advanced driving courses, for example. At present they really only pay lip-service to this, so it’s not financially worthwhile for drivers to bother getting extra training.

And if they really believe their suggested restrictions would save lives, why not offer reductions to all drivers who voluntarily agree to abide by them?

There are many ways that insurers could act as more a positive influence on young drivers than simply penalising them for being young. If they don’t, we’ll end up with a situation where no one drives until their mid-20s, at which point they’ll still lack the experience to drive safely.


I think you need to re-edit that first paragraph Claire.


Hi Phil, thanks for pointing that out. Entirely a mistake in the editing, not on Claire’s part! All fixed now 🙂


The price of insurance should, of course, be related to risk and everyone knows that on average young people are more likely to have accidents. Why don’t insurers take on young people at affordable premiums and increase these if they have to pay out? Information is shared between insurance companies, meaning it should not be possible for those who do have accidents to avoid an increase in premium by switching companies.

Those young people who drive safely should not be expected to pay for those who have accidents. Treat them as individuals and not as statistical averages.

I’m glad I learned to drive when insurance premiums for young people were very reasonable.

Mr Iain says:
2 December 2011

This is something I have long considered would be fair and, at the same time an incentive. Give young drivers the opportunity to prove their worth at a reasonable premium, but hit them hard at renewal if they show themselves to be high risk during their first insurance. We really should positively encourage our younger drivers with measures that promote responsibility and skill development behind the wheel. At the same time, we should introduce measures that require ALL drivers to update their driving skills periodically – or perhaps incentivise them to do so by increasing insurance premiums for those who don’t (who would, in theory be higher risk).


I’ll put my hand up and say I’m a young driver. Whilst I agree that something needs to be done to keep accidents amongst young drivers low, I do not think imposing restrictions is the best thing to do.

I often drive at times where this says I would be restricted, and if I’m honest I actually find it much easier to drive at these times and certainly less stressful.

Perhaps a better solution would be to still implement restrictions but instead offer the ability for a young driver to remove them by completing an advanced driving course (which should be subsidised may I add!). This would also help to boost confidence amongst young drivers and teach them better driving skills.

I absolutely commend any suggestion to introduce a 0 alcohol level too, and I don’t think this would be too much of an ask – if you’re going to drink, even the smallest amount, then prearrange transport home.


I do not agree with a 0% alcohal ban it would just drive even more small pubs out of business. A small quantity is fine and that is what the majority sticks to. Those that do not stick to it would not stick to it with 0% either but in the mean time another host of small pubs will have disappeared.

Mr Iain says:
2 December 2011

A zero alcohol limit, with zero tolerance is well overdue. I, for one, could not live with myself if (heaven forbid) I caused suffering following an accident, and even the presence of a small amount of alcohol would make me wonder – probably for the rest of my life – “what if I hadn’t….?”
Such a system is in place, and is rigorously enforced in a number of countries, including Japan (where I lived, and drove) for a while. Cause death with ANY alcohol in your blood = 15 years mandatory.
Fully appreciate the impact on pubs etc, but then, there are taxis or other means of getting home. Perhaps the “local” should mean just that – a local pub…….


@ekc – Sorry, no quantity of alcohol or any other substance is “fine”. The limit is there because that is the maximum that will be tolerated under the law and because, short of outright prohibition, most casual drinkers will have some amount of residual alcohol in their body, even after several hours.

Do you honestly believe that the additional deaths and injury caused by impared driving under the influence of even the tiniest quantity of drink or drugs is justified, just so we can keep the purveyors of this misery in business?

I detect a vested interest.


I’m not sure why you are painting the insurance companies as the villains and HM Government as the hero of this piece. It’s government shirking its responsibilities that has led to this situation.

i) Government, through its legislation, requires compulsory insurance cover for a number of activities, including driving a car – and quite right too.

ii) But most of these activities also have some economic or social benefit. For instance, requiring a car to be able to get to a place of work, employing staff for your business, or trading with members of the public to earn a living.

All citizens should be able to go about their business legally and without hindrance or impairment. If, in their wisdom, HM Government have decided that 17 is the minimum age for driving a motor vehicle, but with the caveat that the driver must have insurance, then it is the government’s duty to see to it that the minimum level of compulsory insurance cover is available in the marketplace at a fair and equitable price.

Insurance companies are in business to maximize profits, not act as some benevolent organisation to facilitate government legislation, and left to their own devices they will behave like any other capitalist enterprise