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Youngest drivers 'twice as likely' to crash

Monday 15th February 2010

The youngest drivers are twice as likely to have an accident as the average, and crashes involving young drivers are five times more likely to result in an injury.

The findings come from a study of two million Admiral car insurance policy holders. The study found that 13.2% of 17-year-olds and 12.8% of 18-year-olds had a crash, compared to a 6.5% average over a similar one-year period across all other ages. By contrast, just 2% of those over 50 had an accident in a typical year.

In addition to the increased chance of being involved in an accident, claims relating to the youngest drivers also tend to be significantly more expensive, the research found.

According to Admiral, the average cost of an accident involving a 17- or 18-year-old driver is almost £3,500 - twice the overall average of £1,741. The insurer said that the data pointed to young drivers having ‘more serious crashes at high speed’.

Sue Longthorn, Admiral managing director, said: "Driving experience makes a huge difference and is the main reason older motorists have lower premiums.

"It isn't until motorists reach 25 that their accident statistics improve substantially, but it really is the youngest ones who are the biggest risk."

Admiral insurance is sponsoring the Young Driver scheme, through which young people aged 11-16 can take driving lessons in a dual-control car at specially designed off-highway locations.

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Research indicates that Admiral may be shooting themselves in the foot by sponsoring pre-driver training; it seems to lead to earlier licencing and therefore a longer exposure during the 'young-and-inexperienced' higher risk period. It also seems that pre-drivers don't carry the information they learn through to post-test with them and that they 'learn by doing' - making a stronger case for post-test training rather than pre-driver training. This also helps them get through the critical first 1000 miles mentioned by Steve. All this is available in a new Insight report from TRL (no, I don't work for TRL!) :-)
Mike Mounfield, Birmingham

Is it chronological age or is it inexperience? Did they compare 18 year olds with 18 months driving experience with same age drivers with 2 months post-test experience? Latest research suggests its the first 500 / 1000 miles post-test that's crucial to developing a driver's gut feelings of danger to hazardous situations. Did the Admiral study look at this?
Steve Stradling, Manchester