Government to act as insurer data shows 300% surge in crashes by under-23-year-olds

A tough new driving test will enable insurers to cut premiums for young drivers, Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick pledged this week.

He said the government remained committed to a “fundamental reform of driver training and testing”.

His comments came as Norwich Union released research showing that crash rates among young drivers are worsening and that claims by drivers under the age of 23 have increased by more than 300% in the past five years.

In contrast, claims among drivers over 23 fell by 10% during the same period.

Fitzpatrick said: “New drivers have too many accidents. That makes their insurance almost unaffordable. Insurers tell us they have to treat all young people as high risk because there is no way of distinguishing the safe ones.

“We want to work with employers and insurers to get the training right. Meeting their needs will help everyone who is learning to drive.”

Fitzpatrick added: “A driving licence should be a passport to good jobs that involve driving and should give insurers the confidence to offer better rates to novice drivers.”

He told MPs in a debate on novice drivers that he hoped a 12-week consultation would be launched before Easter examining how the driving test should be reformed. This follows last year’s publication of the Transport Select Committee report into novice drivers, which called for learners to face tougher driving tests and restrictions on driving when they first passed the test to cut road deaths.

Fitzpatrick said a comprehensive package of reforms including education to influence attitudes before the age of 17; thorough training; and a reformed assessment process was needed.

He said: “There will be an overhaul of the driving test, making it a thorough, modern and accessible assessment of the key components of safe driving.”

The government must also find ways to curb the reckless few who persisted in bad and dangerous driving, and those who bypassed the tests and drove unlicensed and uninsured, Fitzpatrick warned..