Government to overhaul young driver rules in bid to improve safety and cut insurance costs

Green paper on improving the safety and reducing risks to young drivers launched.

Young drivers could benefit from improved training and lower insurance premiums as the government confirmed its intention to launch a green paper on improving the safety and reducing risks to young drivers.

The proposals were unveiled today at a summit for the motor insurance industry, hosted by the Department for Transport. Representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Department for Health and consumer organisation uSwitch were also present. The government is expecting the changes to result in a reduction in the high cost of vehicle insurance currently facing motorists – especially young drivers.

A green paper looking at a range of options for improving the safety of newly-qualified drivers will be published later in the spring. Among the proposals being considered are:

  • a minimum learning period before candidates are permitted to sit their test
  • enabling learner drivers to take lessons on motorways, and perhaps during adverse weather conditions or during darkness to encourage greater practice prior to taking a test
  • increasing the existing probationary period from 2 to 3 years for a new driver’s licence to be revoked if they receive 6 or more penalty points
  • making the driving test more rigorous to better prepare learners to drive unsupervised
  • incentives for young drivers to take up additional training after passing their test.

The government is also considering the possibility of imposing temporary restrictions on newly qualified drivers and further details will be included for discussion when the green paper is published.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

It is alarming that a fifth of people killed or seriously injured on our roads in 2011 were involved in a collision where at least one driver was aged 17 to 24. Improving the safety of our young drivers is therefore a real priority and will not only reduce casualties but should also mean a reduction in the sky-high insurance premiums they pay.

I have been clear that I want to see insurance premiums reflecting conditions, performance and risks on the road. We have already done much as a government to address the concerns around motor insurance but more still needs to be done before young drivers feel satisfied they are getting value for money. I look forward to working with the industry and hearing from them how these proposals will help reduce premiums.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said:

Honest drivers should not have to foot the bill for a system that has been exploited by others to generate large profits for themselves. We have taken major steps to put this right, including changing no-win no-fee deals so lawyers can no longer double their money, banning behaviour which encourages questionable claims and tackling the whiplash problem. This will all help to create savings that insurers can pass on to their customers through lower premiums.

Today’s summit follows an inaugural meeting held at No10 Downing Street last year. A number of changes have already been implemented to address a range of concerns relating to motor insurance. These include:

  • introducing Continuous Insurance Enforcement, making it illegal to own an uninsured vehicle unless it is registered SORN
  • recently consulting on increasing the penalty for uninsured driving
  • transforming no win, no fee law suits so that, from April, lawyers will no longer be able to double their fees if they win (at the expense of the defendant and their insurers)
  • banning ‘referral fees’ paid between lawyers, insurers, claims firms, garages and others trading in profitable accident claims, also from April
  • banning claims firms from offering upfront cash incentives or other gifts to people who bring claims to them, from April. Recommend a friend deals will also be banned
  • cracking down on the number of whiplash claims – the Ministry of Justice has consulted on proposals including setting up independent medical panels to improve injury assessment and increasing the small claims court limit so more questionable claims can be challenged by insurers