Young drivers blame peers and ignore safety messages

Article date: 22 November 2007

  • New report reveals novice drivers refuse responsibility for high accident rates

Young drivers are ignoring important safety messages and failing to change dangerous driving behaviour because they blame their peers for soaring accident rates, and do not accept personal responsibility, according to a new report out today.

Norwich Union's "Road Age Report" reveals that almost half of young drivers (44%) don't consider their peers to be safe on the roads and that nearly two thirds of them (63%) are in favour of tougher measures such as loss of licence and driving bans to encourage safer driving.

However, the research, conducted with 1,265 young drivers aged 17-23*, found that nearly half (45%) of novice drivers rate themselves as "safe drivers" and three quarters are very confident of their driving abilities, despite having little driving experience and high accident rates.

Worryingly, the research also shows that nearly one in four young male drivers (23%) have driven under the influence of illegal drugs and/or alcohol and nearly half (44%) have driven the morning after being under the influence.

Despite these findings, young drivers believe that they are treated unfairly compared to other road users. According to the "Road Age Report", four in five feel victimised by the way they are portrayed in the media and two in five (41%) feel alienated by high premiums imposed by insurers.  

Experts believe that these feelings of alienation explain why important advice on safer driving from the government, leading charities and the media continue to fall on deaf ears and fail to influence young driver behaviour.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, RoSPA, comments: "Every day three young drivers are killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads and last year alone there were over 42,000 casualties amongst young drivers aged 17-23**. Young driver safety is a huge problem and it's a concern that current messages don't appear to be getting through to this age group. This new research from Norwich Union adds to our understanding of one of the most difficult road safety issues we face today."

Launched last year, Norwich Union's "Pay As You Drive"TM insurance for young drivers has significantly reduced accident claims amongst the young drivers on the policy, as compared to other young drivers insured by Norwich Union. The unique policy charges higher tariffs during the peak accident times of between 11pm and 6am - an important step to encourage young drivers to change their driving behaviour. As a result, just 3% of policyholders drive at night, causing young driver claims to drop by a third. And by driving during the safer - and cheaper - times of day, policyholders are saving an average of 21% on their premiums when compared to a standard Norwich Union motor insurance policy.

While this is one important step in the right direction, Norwich Union believes that more needs to be done to influence young driver attitudes. The ‘Road Age Report' was commissioned to open a dialogue with young drivers to better understand current attitudes and what can be done to change and influence behaviour.

Sue Rowland, head of "Pay As You Drive"TM insurance at Norwich Union, said: "Our research provides valuable insights into young driver attitudes and shows that they continue to see the driving test as a means to an end, rather than the first stage of the long process of learning to drive. We are proud of what we have achieved with "Pay As You Drive"TM insurance and are committed to working with organisations such as RoSPA to improve understanding of young drivers and develop other ways in which to influence young driver attitudes and help curb high accident rates."

Norwich Union is currently working with RoSPA to recruit a panel of young drivers to encourage dialogue and generate the debate on how high accident rates amongst young drivers can be tackled.


View a copy of the report.

For more information please contact:
Joanna Pritchard
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6440

Emilie Lien
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6421

Erik Nelson
Norwich Union press office
Telephone: 01603 682 264

Notes to editors:

*All figures, unless otherwise stated are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,265 adults who have a full driving license. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30 August - 3 September 2007.

**Official 2006 figures from the ABI and DfT

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

RoSPA's road safety information and advice can be found at

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