Young drivers are paying the price for dangerous drives

Article date: 17 December 2008

  • New drivers are putting their lives at risk by buying cheap cars and not having basic safety checks carried out

New research released today by Norwich Union reveals that more than half (52%) of drivers under the age of 21 spend less than £500 on their first car and 40% of first time car buyers don't carry out any vehicle checks on their car until the MOT is due.

These are worrying statistics given that Norwich Union claims data shows that motorists are twice as likely to be injured in an accident in a 10 year old car than a new car, with the probability of injury increasing the older the car is.   

Cars valued at under £500 are less likely to have adequate safety features, including anti-locking braking systems (ABS), traction control and airbags. 

The research reveals that although 35% of parents help their children financially to purchase their first car, few are getting the car properly inspected or serviced. One third (33%) of parents said they "checked the car over themselves" and 34% said they did nothing at all, compared to only less than one in 10 (9%) of parents who paid for new tyres, brakes or other safety-related parts, and 17% who paid for a professional inspection.

Nigel Bartram, underwriting strategy manager for Norwich Union, said: "Getting young drivers through their driving test can be very costly for parents so it's understandable that when it comes to purchasing the first car they look to get a car that isn't going to be too expensive. There is also a school of thought that says since young inexperienced drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident so they are better off driving a cheap little run-around until they are confident enough to step up to a better vehicle. However, Norwich Union are advising parents to do everything they can to give their children the best possible chance of staying in one piece on the nation's roads by ensuring they have enough money to purchase a safe, road worthy vehicle, as it's the younger motorists that are going to benefit most from safety features than any other age group.           

"From as little as £125, parents and young motorists can have peace of mind that the car is road worthy and safe to drive with a vehicle inspection. It's always a good idea to have a vehicle inspection prior to purchasing the car, as this ensures you're not going to be hit by a huge repair that is ultimately more expensive than the initial purchase of the car."    

Claims statistics from Norwich Union show that:

  • Young drivers account for more than two in five road deaths in the UK despite the fact they account for just one in eight licenses1
  • 18 year olds are twice as likely to make an insurance claim as those in their 50s
  • Usually there are no other vehicles involved in accidents involving young drivers so therefore they are likely to be a consequence of driver error
  • Most young drivers involved in accidents are male
  • Personal injury accounts for the majority of motor claims costs rather than vehicle repairs. There is usually at least one passenger involved in young driver catastrophic motor claims
  • Most accidents are at night, many in poor weather conditions
  • Most accidents occur on national speed limit rural B roads, not currently featured in driving lessons or tests, as these are centred on mainly urban areas in the immediate vicinity of the test centre
  • Young drivers seem well aware of maximum legal speed limits for roads but have little understanding of an appropriate speed for certain conditions and the capability of their vehicle.

Nigel Bartram added: "Parents can do very little to control how our children will drive when we are not with them so we have to focus on the things to help make a difference. Purchase the newest car you can afford with airbags, side protection, ABS and stability control, and do your research as these safety features really help inexperienced drivers and often reduces the car's insurance group rating. Once the car is in the driveway, encourage your children to carry out basic car maintenance, like checking the oil, water levels and tyre treads, so they get in a habit of doing it themselves."


Press office contacts:

Adam Cracknell
Norwich Union press office
Telephone: 01603 684916

Notes to editors:

Young Drivers Survey
Fieldwork was carried out during October and November 2008 by Consumer Analysis Group.

Sample for the survey - 500 people between the ages of 17 and 25 years from England, Scotland and Wales.

In lengthy telephone interviews they were asked when they bought their first car, what factors influenced their choice and which checks they did before purchasing the car.

Parents Survey
Research was carried out online between Friday 31 October and Tuesday 4 November 2008 by Opinium.

Sample of the survey - Based on 2,111 responses, giving the results of research into how parents help finance their adult children's motoring and other costs.

Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

Source - Brake Research 2007

About Norwich Union
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.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva.  Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

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

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