Monday, 28 March 2011

Focus On: New Car Insurance For Young Drivers

While the fuel duty reduction announced in the Budget may have brought some relief to young drivers, for many the cost of motoring remains unaffordable due to steep insurance premiums.

Motorists in their teens or early twenties pay substantially higher premiums than older drivers because they are considered higher risk by insurers. According to the Driving Standards Agency, in the UK, an 18-year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48-year-old.

But now The Co-operative Insurance has become the latest insurer to launch a policy specifically for young drivers, which promises lower premiums if the policyholder can demonstrate that they are responsible on the roads.

Here, we look at how the policy works and whether it could be right for you...

What's The Deal?

The new Young Driver policy calculates premiums based on driving behaviours and rewards those who demonstrate they drive safely with lower premiums. According to The Co-operative Insurance, the new product, which is designed for 17 to 25-year olds, will be on average £328 cheaper than competitor prices. It claims that over three quarters of young drivers could make a saving with this policy.

The insurer is able to monitor a driver's behaviour by fitting a Smartbox into the owner's car. Using satellite technology, the box then relays information on braking and acceleration, cornering, speed, and the time of driving - so whether most journeys are made during the day or at night time.

Driving is assessed every 90 days based on these four driving behaviours. If the motorist drives well, then they will receive a Safer Driving Discount that cuts the cost of the annual premium by up to 11%.

However, if the box shows bad driving behaviour, for example, repeatedly breaking the speed limit or taking corners too sharply, then their premium could increase by 15% of the initial policy price.

Motorists can log into a unique online 'Driving Dashboard' to see how their driving has been rated against the four driving behaviours. It also gives advice on what they can do to improve. Each behaviour is illustrated by a speed dial and drivers will be rated on a green (good driving), amber (generally good but showing some bad behaviours) and red (bad driving).

Any Catches?

If you aren't able to demonstrate that you can drive responsibly, then your premiums under this policy could end up being higher than if you opted for a conventional policy that doesn't monitor your behaviour.

Your insurance will be cancelled if you drive so far above the speed limit that a driving ban is imposed.


Young drivers who believe they pay higher premiums due to others' bad driving may well benefit from a policy which rewards good driving behaviour.

Any innovation in the insurance market that can help reduce steep costs for young drivers should be welcomed, especially if it encourages safer driving.

Aviva used to offer a similar policy, but it was withdrawn several years ago because the technology involved cost more then and premiums for young drivers weren't as steep as they are now.

Top Tip

Remember that there are plenty of other ways young drivers can reduce insurance costs. Taking additional qualifications such as 'Pass Plus' can reduce premiums, and you could also consider adding an older, more experienced driver to the policy as a named driver to keep costs down.

Don't, however, be tempted to ask an older driver to register themselves as the main driver - this is illegal and likely to result in any claim being rejected.

Source :

Learner Driver Attacked Examiner Who Refused Bribe

A learner driver was so desperate to pass her test she tried to bribe the examiner – then attacked him when he refused.

Jin Su handed the official a red envelope stuffed with cash during her FIFTH test and told him: "This will be good for you – and for me."

The packet contained between £400 and £500, Manchester Crown Court heard. Su, 35, a former teacher who has a young son, handed over the money just before she tried a road manoeuvre in Cheetham Hill. When Driving Standards Agency examiner Keith Ashcroft refused the the cash and terminated the driving test, Su got angry and attacked him in the street.

She grabbed his wrists and tried to push him back into the car, shouting: "I want the test to continue!" When quizzed after her arrest she said the money was to bring good luck, but later admitted it was a bribe.

Su, of Grasmere Road, Swinton, pleaded guilty to offering a bribe and common assault. She was ordered to carry out 50 hours of unpaid work and pay Mr Ashcroft £100 compensation.

The defendant attempted the bribe during a test on May 19.

She pulled out of the Cheetham Hill Test Centre and told Mr Ashcroft: "I feel confident I will pass my test today."

He asked Su to pull over to test her starting and stopping skills.

Michael Morley, prosecuting, told the court: "She reached into her front jeans pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a substantial amount of money, which was folded up. It appeared to be all £20 notes. She took the money and placed it in a red envelope and passed it to Mr Ashcroft and said: ‘This will be good for you, and for me’. He was in no doubt that it was an effort to bribe him. He was shocked and told her to put the money away, then terminated the test."

Su then got out of the driver’s seat and assaulted Mr Ashcroft.

Mr Morley added: "He said it drew a little blood, and there were marks on his arms. When interviewed by probation officers, she said she wasn’t trying to bribe an official. As is custom, she was trying to gain good luck by passing over money in a red envelope. However, she did not hand over the envelope until she was alone with him in the car and half way through the test."

Su later admitted she tried to bribe the examiner with the money. Michael Hopkinson, defending, said: "In the part of the world where my client originates it’s much more common than here, but she knows she must abide by the laws and rules as they exist here."

He added Su had no previous convictions and was pregnant.

Judge David Stockdale QC told her: "You offered the money in expectation that he would in due course record that you passed. That is corruption of a serious kind. Driving examiners carry out important work for the safety of all road users, by ensuring that all those who drive are competent to do so."

Source : Pete Bainbridge -

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Learner Driver Has Failed The Theory Test A Record 90 Times

A learner driver has failed her theory test a record 90 times – costing her £2,790 before she can even hope to sit a test.

The 26-year-old from Southwark, south London, last sat the £31 written test in November, the Driving Standards Agency revealed yesterday as it lifted the lid on Britain’s worst drivers.

However, our home grown entry in the hall of motoring shame still has a long way to go before she can steal the world record from Cha Sa-soon of South Korea

She passed the theory test at her 950th attempt in November 2009.

The figures also showed a 39-year-old from the West Midlands has sat the most number of practical tests.

He failed the last test – his 36th – just four months ago after sitting it in the Stoke area.

The Guinness World Record for the most practical driving tests ever taken is held by Git Kaur Randhawa, of Hayes, west London.

She finally triumphed at her 48th attempt in 1987 just weeks before her 50th birthday.


Calls For Motorway Training To Be Added To Driving Test

Motorway training should be integrated into the driving test to help improve the general standard of driving, according to the Driving Instructors Association which also wants the current Pass Plus scheme integrated into the driving test syllabus.

The DIA is the UK's largest body representing professional driver trainers and says those applying for a driving test should only be allowed to do so once instructors are confident that candidates have sufficient experience of driving on all the types of road they will encounter when they have a full licence.

The association also wants driving qualifications for qualified drivers need to be developed further. So drivers of company vehicles would have to achieve minimum national occupational standards for driving (currently there is no recognised syllabus for company drivers in category B vehicles). It says the qualifications should also have a shelf life to encourage refresher training.

Another issue that that the DIA wants addressed is the current lack of a formal training syllabus for potential Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) to work to. The DIA’s belief is that there should be a prescribed syllabus to prevent customers wasting their money. The minimum entry level to the industry should also be raised to include recognised teaching qualifications (e.g. Preparing to Teach in the Life-long Learning Sector).

The final change proposed is that all drivers should have their eyesight tested by an optometrist, not at the driving test centre, with drivers’ eyesight checked at least every 10 years. Currently, the responsibility is with the driver to self-certify their eyesight has not deteriorated after the age of 70.

Source :

Higher Fuel Prices Slow Down Motorway Speeds

Soaring fuel prices have forced millions of drivers into the slow lane in a bid to lower their fuel consumption.

Some 59 percent of motorists have said they would cut their motorway speeds in order to save fuel, according to new research by the AA.

The AA has pointed out that, apart from being illegal, driving at 80mph is 25 percent less effective than driving at the national speed limit of 70mph. It claims that by just easing off on the motorway, motorists could save up to £500 a year in fuel bills.

The AA says that the figures showing drivers are willing to slow down, compiled by the Department for Transport to assess public attitude to climate change, mirrors its own research which says that 49 percent of drivers intend to drive more economically. The AA also reckons the average driver is paying £10 more a tank for diesel and £8.40 for petrol compared to a year ago.

Standard unleaded petrol currently costs an average of 129.0p a litre across the country, with a highest price of 143.9p according to Diesel is even higher at an average of 134.3p a litre, rising to a maximum of 146.9p in some places.

The current political unrest in places such as Bahrain and Libya has raised fears that costs are set to creep up ever further as well, as both countries are such major exporters of oil. Average oil prices have now topped $100 a barrel, rising to a recent high of $101.67 on the New York Merchantile Exchange.

Source : Tom Webster -