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Government explores graduated driver licensing – insurance industry reacts

Government explores graduated driver licensing – insurance industry reacts | Insurance Business

Government explores graduated driver licensing – insurance industry reacts

The Department for Transport (DfT), as part of its road safety action plan, is exploring whether graduated driver licensing or a similar scheme should be rolled out in England. Here we bring you what the likes of LexisNexis and the Association of British Insurers think of the proposal.

Centred on younger motorists, the scheme could see restrictions put on new drivers such as a minimum learning period or not driving at night. According to the DfT, graduated licensing schemes already operate in New York and California in the US; Ontario and British Columbia in Canada; New South Wales and Victoria in Australia; as well as in New Zealand and Sweden.

“We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking at ways to make them safer,” stated Road Safety Minister Michael Ellis. “Getting a driving licence is exciting for young people, but it can also be daunting as you’re allowed to drive on your own for the first time.

“We want to explore in greater detail how graduated driver licensing, or aspects of it, can help new drivers to stay safe and reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads.”

Industry support
Among the first to offer a positive reaction was LexisNexis Risk Solutions, which is of the view that what is needed is a larger holistic debate involving all interested parties. These include insurers, technology suppliers, and road safety experts.  

“We fully support the commitment the government is making to explore new ways to help support the safety of drivers of all ages,” said Graham Gordon, director of global telematics at LexisNexis. “Anything that can be done to get people home safe has to be welcomed.

“We look forward to contributing to the research the DfT plans to undertake to understand the effectiveness of a graduated licensing scheme.”

Gordon added that while graduated licensing will take time to implement, telematics is already working to save lives. According to the LexisNexis executive, their analysis shows that telematics insurance has helped cut road casualty rates among the youngest drivers by 35% in the past eight years.

He added: “Looking to other countries in the world, such as Australia, we can see how graduated licensing has worked in tandem with telematics so that the solution is less about restrictions and more about modifying behaviours.

“In particular, we need to consider the mobility needs of young people in rural areas and ensuring continued access to insurance. Through telematics, young drivers typically pay 30% less for their insurance compared to a standard motor insurance policy.”

Also backing the idea of graduated driver licensing is the Association of British Insurers (ABI), whose director of general insurance policy James Dalton believes the potential for the scheme to dramatically improve road safety in the UK is indisputable, with insurers having long called for its adoption.

“Research commissioned by the government in 2013 concluded evidence of its effectiveness was overwhelming and it has already delivered great results in places such as Canada, New Zealand, California, and parts of Australia,” noted Dalton.

“Given this, the road safety action plan should focus on the practicalities of introducing such an approach without delay.”

Opposing view
A different take on the matter, however, has been presented by UK telematics pioneer Mike Brockman – the founder and former CEO of insurethebox who is now at the helm of ThingCo. 

“Limits on passengers is a good idea but night-time curfews kill,” asserted Brockman. “If you put young drivers under time pressure to get off the road by a certain time, the high probability is that they will speed and we know the consequences of speeding. Or they end up stranded, unable to drive to get home.

“These proposals are poorly considered, discriminatory, and impractical. Not all young drivers behave the same way; there are major differences in behaviour between male and female drivers, yet these changes could be wholesale.”

While the telematics boss acknowledged that black box insurance works in supporting young driver safety and can indeed work for all drivers, he pointed out the need for the government to take a closer look at road casualty figures.

“The road casualty figures show casualties among the youngest motorists have fallen by 35% compared to 16% for more experienced drivers since 2011,” highlighted Brockman. “And that can largely be attributed to telematics insurance. At the root of these proposals is a lack of understanding of what technology can do and has done to protect young drivers.

“We would welcome the government to engage with the insurance sector and technology providers to understand what the industry has learnt about young drivers and what motivates them to modify behaviour rather than resort to these draconian and ill-thought out measures.”