In May 2012 as part of the road safety Think! campaign the Department for Transport and insurance providers met in order to investigate methods to reduce the cost of motor insurance for young drivers. The summit included Justine Greening,the former Secretary of State for Transport. The resulting action agreed upon was to engage with young people and their parents in order to gauge their thoughts on a range of policy and marketing interventions designed with the intent of reducing road risk and insurance premiums.
The resulting research from this action has found some interesting attitudes from both young people and parents regarding insurance policy and learning to drive in the report Top line summary of young drivers’ focus group research on attitudes to driving and insurance.
Holding focus groups in London, Leeds, Birmingham and Clacton The Department for Transport and participating insurance providers wanted to understand the attitudes out there towards learning to drive; having a driving licence and towards the insurance market. They also wished to explore the views on black box technology and the possibility of reducing the minimum driving age to 16.
The groups found that young people believed that while driving equalled freedom but they had suspicions that authorities were out to make things difficult for them and didn’t want them on the road. Similar to some of Brighton motorists’ views towards recent changes to road laws by the council!
It was found that practicalities such as cost was a big factor in young people’s attitude towards driving. The groups also divided young people into types with a corresponding attitude towards driving. There was the Pre-Driver (15-16) who felt a “Mixture of excitement and nervousness about learning to drive. Little consideration of practical considerations.” Followed by Learner Drivers (17-18) in this group males were more keen to pass than females and the key concern about driving lessons was the cost. The next type was the Recently Passed “initially elated but practical cost considerations kick in. Also feel young drivers are victimised for being perceived as less able.” There was also still a gender divide, “Freedom/being in control highly valued but can lead to male preening and risky behaviour with peers.”
All of these types were found have experienced disillusionment with the insurance industry and felt frustration and confusion over what they saw to be an “illogical and unfair process.” As the age advanced the excitement of owning a car or having a licence wanes and the car is seen as “a tool not a toy and costs a weighty concern” There was also a strong sense that it was only after the young people had passed their test that they learned to drive.
Even though using black box technology would possibly reduce insurance costs many young people were suspicious of the technology and felt it could be seen as a punishment before the crime.
The summary found that cost became an increasingly important factor in young people’s decision making process when learning to drive and owning a car. Their parents were more concerned with safety over the various costs behind driving.