Some industry reaction to the latest government solution to the problem of young driver road accidents;
Responding to the Government’s plans to explore the introduction of graduated licensing for young drivers, Mike Brockman, the pioneer of telematics insurance in the UK and CEO of ThingCo which is developing the next generation of telematics technology has slammed the proposals as deadly.
Mike Brockman, the former CEO and founder of insurethebox which has recently sold its millionth policy says: “Limits on passengers is a good idea but night-time curfews kill. If you put young drivers under time pressure to get off the road by a certain time, the high probability is that they will speed and we know the consequences of speeding. Or they end up stranded, unable to drive to get home.
These proposals are poorly considered, discriminatory and impractical. Not all young drivers behave the same way, there are major differences in behaviour between male and female drivers yet these changes could be wholesale.
“We know that telematics insurance works in supporting young driver safety and can indeed work for all drivers. The UK Government needs to take a closer look at road casualty figures. The road casualty figures show casualties amongst the youngest motorists have fallen by 35% compared to 16% for more experienced drivers since 2011. And that can largely be attributed to telematics insurance.
“At the root of these proposals is a lack of understanding of what technology can do and has done to protect young drivers. We would welcome the Government to engage with the insurance sector and technology providers to understand what the industry has learnt about young drivers and what motivates them to modify behaviour rather than resort to these draconian and ill-thought out measures.”
INSURETHEBOX – SLEDGEHAMMER APPROACH NOT HELPFUL
insurethebox, the UK pioneer of telematics-based car insurance, believes the latest government proposals to ban new drivers from driving at night is an ineffective and punitive solution to a very real problem in the fight against the high numbers of young drivers involved in serious accidents.
Simon Rewell, Road Safety Manager at insurethebox comments: “This has been discussed before, but we remain certain that a curfew on young drivers is ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut’. We have clear evidence that engaging with young drivers to help them understand the risks of poor driving, such as speeding, has a direct influence on driving behaviour. Simply stopping new motorists from driving at night – which actually is an important skill to develop – affects the social mobility of our youngest adults which we believe would be quite demotivating.”
Instead of imposing curfews, insurethebox supports continuous learning with a ‘carrot, rather than stick’ approach; empowering young drivers to manage their driving behaviour by providing information on their driving habits and ways to stay safe through its online portal and engagement with its customers.
“We don’t see a curfew on driving as a workable or fair solution,” continued Simon Rewell. “New drivers continue to be a huge challenge when it comes to improving road safety and reducing road deaths. It’s welcome news that the Government is looking at ways to help reduce road accidents, but we don’t believe that a night-time curfew is the right way forward.
“Imposing punitive measures on young drivers could have an unfair impact on their lives, such as hampering their earning potential if they work in jobs which require night shifts or late-night duties. There are also questions around how this proposal will affect different locations, given that darkness falls as early as 5pm in certain regions of England – even earlier during winter – and may last until 7:30 am, when many young motorists will need to have left home for college, university or work.
“Our 4.5 billion miles of telematics data does show that driving after 11pm significantly increases the risk of an accident for young motorists. There are however numerous other road risks that new drivers struggle with and unless we help drivers to improve their skills, the numbers impacted are unlikely to change.
“The government should be looking at solutions to better prepare young, new drivers such as extended periods of learning so that this demographic of motorists can gain more experience in driving in different light and weather conditions. Restricting the number of passengers in the car is a good start”
DRIVER ENGAGEMENT IS KEY
“At insurethebox, we have been able to improve road safety by proactively engaging with customers to help them identify the risks they pose to themselves and other motorists and road users. We have seen great success with this approach – for example the insight we gather from our telematics data helps us support and educate the newest drivers on the roads, as our ground-breaking speed reduction initiative has demonstrated.
For the three years the programme has been in operation, 97,000 drivers have reduced their speed by 20%, leading to a 6.5% reduction in accident frequency. Using Government data on the impact of speeding on road traffic accidents, we estimate this to have prevented 922 accidents and avoided 29 serious injuries. Safer drivers also benefit from cheaper car insurance from insurethebox, which is a great incentive.”
ABI BACKS THE IDEA
Welcoming today’s announcement from DfT of a consultation into how to make young drivers safer, Director of General Insurance Policy at the Association of British Insurers, James Dalton, said:
“The potential for Graduated Driver Licensing to dramatically improve road safety in the UK is indisputable and insurers have long called for its introduction. Research commissioned by the Government in 2013 concluded evidence of its effectiveness was overwhelming and it has already delivered great results in places such as Canada, New Zealand, California and parts of Australia. Given this, the road safety action plan should focus on the practicalities of introducing such an approach without delay.
“The main aim must be to reduce deaths and serious injuries but it is also true that a dramatic reduction in accidents would do a lot to alleviate the pressure on insurance premiums for young drivers. This will be even more important given the recent move by Government to set the rate for major compensation payments in a way which is likely to increase motor insurance costs, particularly for those younger motorists.”
The 2013 report published by the Transport Research Laboratory, commissioned by Government, is here https://trl.co.uk/sites/default/files/PPR673.pdf
INSURANCE EDGE COMMENT
Graduated licences and age discrimination are things that scooter riders and motorcyle enthusiasts have had to endure for decades. If you’re aged 20 and live in a not-so-nice area, the costs of getting a 600c motorbike insured as a novice are somewhere near the GDP of Latvia. Fancy a big bike like a Fireblade or R1? These are banned until you turn 25. So why shouldn’t car drivers face the same discrimination? Well, because it’s intrinsically unfair and undemocratic, that’s why.
The UK government, like the EU, shares a Vison Zero approach to road accidents, and the strategy of both is to ban things, or make them hideously expensive, so that a particular spike in casualty figures can be dealt with for the sake of media enquiries, plus assuage the powerful road safety charity lobby – which is in turn largely funded by the government.
But simply taxing movement via emissions tolls and taxes in cities, or banning young drivers from the roads at night, is a quick political fix, not a long term answer. The logical solution is the difficult, expensive process of policing the streets with uniformed traffic officers, especially at night. Stopping and searching vehicles, catching offenders driving dangerously and demanding that drivers produce documents, or have their cars seized – all the stuff that provokes community tensions, as the politicians like to describe it.
These are the tough solutions. But if you really want to reduce road deaths amongst males aged under 25, then that is the best way to do it. Dish out old fashioned policing and tough jail time for those who repeat offend when it comes to no licence, no insurance etc.
Unlikely that any government, no matter which party is in power, will be able to man up and take that course of action. In reality, only the new safety features being built into modern cars and the gradual rise of driverless vehicles, will cut accidents to the few hundreds per year. Illegal young drivers will continue to race cars at night, take drugs, steal cars and risk their lives – it is ultimately an unenforceable law.
Yet politicians will gleefully take the credit for any reduction in road deaths, even if it means that all young people are effectively treated like suspects on bail – an almost Soviet style restriction on personal liberty, which will hit the working poor harder than any other segment of society.
Not all young people are hipsters who can afford an Uber.