This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our cookie policy.

Young drivers call for a driving test overhaul

14th April 2016

  • new report from the Co-op Insurance ‘Young people in the driving seat’ provides striking snapshot of the challenges facing young drivers in 2016
  • over a third of young drivers didn’t feel prepared to drive after passing their test
  • three quarters want motorway driving adding to the driving test
  • two-fifths of young drivers admit to dangerous habits behind the wheel
  • young drivers in Hull are the safest in the UK and those in Redhill the most dangerous.

A new study from Co-op Insurance has found that over a third (36% )of the UK’s young drivers don’t believe that the driving test is fit for purpose as it doesn’t fully prepare them for driving after passing their driving test*.

The report, ’Young people in the driving seat’ is based on data held by the Co-op Insurance from over 60,000 young drivers and which questioned 1,000 young drivers aged 17-25. It has found that only a third of young drivers (35%) felt partly prepared to take to the roads on their own after passing their test. One per cent didn’t feel at all prepared after ripping the ‘L’ plates up.

And despite being a rite of passage for over 6 million drivers** over the last decade, when asked about the test itself young drivers are clear – changes do need to be made.

With over two thousand miles of motorway in the UK*** perhaps it is rational that the main addition of motorway driving to the test is the most popular change with three quarters (75%) of young drivers calling for its inclusion. Over half (57%) want to see both day and night time driving on the test and half (50%) are calling for a mandatory number of lessons before you can even take a test.

With the driving test now in its 81st year, the report findings have shown just how much driving has moved on in the UK. Nearly two fifths (39%) of 17-25 year old drivers are now calling for Sat Nav training to be included in the driving test.

Driving test changes that need to be made – according to 17-25 year old drivers

Table of driving test changes suggested by 17-25 year old drivers
RankingInclude/Remove% who think this
1 Include motorway driving 76%
2 Include day and night time driving 57%
3 Mandatory number of lessons before taking test 50%
4 Include all manoeuvres 50%
5 Remove unnecessary questions from the theory test 45%
6 Include driving with a sat nav 39%
7 Less minor faults should be allowed 37%
8 Remove the reverse around a corner element 29%
9 More minor faults should be allowed 27%
10 Remove the parallel parking element 19%
11 Remove the emergency stop element 15%

Often young drivers are perceived as being dangerous drivers, however the overwhelming majority (98%) of 17-25 year olds questioned think that they are safe drivers, with 42% of these classing their driving as very safe. That said, when asked to rate their peers driving 70% agree with the generalisation that young people are more dangerous than other age groups.

However, two-fifths (40%) admit to dangerous behaviour at the wheel. This includes including driving when tired (28%), breaking the speed limit (24%) and cornering too fast (17%). Male drivers aged 17-25 (43%) are more likely to display these behaviours than females (39%) of the same age.

Top 5 potentially dangerous driving behaviours the young drivers admit to

Table of Top 5 potentially dangerous driving behaviours admitted by 17-25 year old drivers
RankingBehaviour% admit
1 Often drive when tired 28%
2 Break the speed limits 24%
3 Never check car is safely maintained 24%
4 Go round corners too fast 17%
5 Use phone when driving 16%

Co-op Insurance was the first mainstream insurer to bring telematics ‘pay how you drive’ insurance to the market five years ago. According to exclusive data from the insurer, looking at the driving behaviours of tens of thousands of 17-25 year olds -  the UK’s best young drivers are found in Hull, York and Cambridge – this is based on how much their driving score has improved. However the data also shows that the ‘worst’ young drivers are in Redhill, Halifax and Medway (Rochester) – based on how much their driving score has deteriorated.

Young male drivers are more likely to carry passengers (25%), in comparison to females (21%). Drivers in the South East and London prefer passengers (31%), with those in the North of England more likely to drive alone.

Young drivers who prefer to have passengers, say they do so because they like having company (72%), they feel safer having somebody in the car (47%), they like having moral support (40%). However the type of passenger does hugely affect the driving style of young people.

With friends in the car young drivers are more likely to…

  • drive in excess of the speed limit (12%)
  • weave in between lanes (8%)
  • accelerate fast (17%)
  • brake sharply (10%)
  • go round corners too fast (10%)
  • shout at people out of the car window (14%)
  • drive erratically (9%)
  • play the radio loudly (42%)
  • run red lights (6%)
  • eat, drink and smoke (17%).

In comparison, 39% of young drivers are less likely to speed when they have family members in the car with them or accelerate fast.

James Hillon, Director of Products at Co-op Insurance, said: “Newly qualified drivers today are facing busier road conditions than any other generation."

“It’s extremely important for road safety that anyone who passes their driving test, regardless of age, feels comfortable and equipped to drive on the roads unsupervised. It is no secret that errors made on the roads unfortunately can have catastrophic consequences for road users and communities."

“Insurers have a key role to play in keeping the UK’s roads safe with telematics technology playing an important part in this."

“At the Co-op we believe that educating people about their own driving styles and where improvements can be made is an invaluable tool in combating bad driving behaviours. This month marks five years of us bringing telematics insurance which prices on how people drive to the market, which has enabled us to show young people how they are actually driving, and give pointers on improvements that can be made.”

Sarah-Jane Martin, spokesperson for Brake, the road safety charity said: “Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK and worldwide. The research by the Co-op shows that young people agree that the driving test isn’t up to scratch and doesn’t prepare them adequately."

"We know that young drivers are much more at risk of being involved in a road crash that causes death or serious injury than older drivers. That’s why we’re calling for Graduated Driving Licences to be introduced for new drivers.  They have proven successful in other countries, and it’s an obvious way to make our roads safer, preventing many deaths and injuries in the process. We need our government to sit up and take note in order to protect our young people.”


Notes to editors:

*Research with 1,000 young drivers aged 17-25, conducted by ICM Unlimited. Data from over 60,000 Co-operative Young Driver Insurance customers March 2011 – February 2016. The policy is aimed at Young Drivers aged 17-25.


***Department for Transport Road Lengths in Great Britain: 2014

Media Report: Young People in the Driving Seat. (PDF - 5MB)

Co-op Young Driver Insurance

The Young Driver Insurance policy works by rewarding policyholders for safe driving and the Co-operative Insurance was one of the first mainstream insurance providers to bring telematics to the mainstream market. It prices discounts based on four factors:

  • speed - keeping within limits
  • acceleration and Breaking - not accelerating/ breaking suddenly
  • cornering - driving in a controlled manner around corners
  • time of driving - certain times can be riskier to drive at.

Conversely, policyholders who drive badly may also see an increase in the amount they pay for insurance.

For more information please contact:

Jenna Moss
Press & Media Relations Manager – Co‑op Group
Tel: 0161 767 4354 / 07770 441 828

Sarah Dawson
Press Officer        
Tel: 07702 506 126

About Co-op Insurance
Co-op Insurance is a UK-based general insurer that operates principally within the personal lines segments of the motor and home insurance markets. Co-op Insurance underwrites the majority of business written, supplemented with some small lines of business where Co-op Insurance acts as a distributor or has a 100% reinsurance arrangement in place.

With more than 1.18m customers, Co-op Insurance is committed to ‘Doing the Right Thing’ and always strives to treat customers and members fairly. Co-op Insurance pioneered the way in lowering the insurance premiums of young drivers as the first major insurer to launch a pay how you drive telematics insurance product for young drivers in 2011. Since launching the scheme, Co-op Insurance has saved its young drivers more than £7.2 million in their first year of driving.