Tag Archives: accidents

Radical moves needed to save young motoring lives

haveaheartThis is happening all over the UK. Under 21s are being killed in cars they have been given a licence to drive but still don’t know how to handle.

Over the last couple of weeks, my local paper has reported that three youngsters under 20 have been killed on Horsham roads.

All needlessly – what a waste.

Just imagine the grief for families across the country. Just imagine the guilt for some in imagining they may have funded their child’s driving too soon, not realising the risks.

Youth versus mobility

I mention this because I know the statistics and this affected my actions recently.

After taking his theory test and a course of lessons, my 20 year old son decided he couldn’t afford to buy a car and insure it… as well as move to a flat in Brighton. So he postponed taking his test.

Looking back, I could surely have found some funds to contribute to his motoring plans but I didn’t. Quite the opposite actually, I heaved a huge but inward sigh of relief because I know the accident statistics relating to young drivers.

Even so, I realise that he and other non driving young adults could just as well be travelling in a young friend’s car and be killed as a result of their driving inexperience…

Can telematics make a difference?

mam_daughterTelematics ie having a black insurance-related box fitted in a car to measure/reward a drivers ability is probably making a difference to these statistics. Perhaps it has saved lives already if the young lady I met at a recent networking evening was typical.

‘I’m not going to be hurried by a car threatening me to speed up from behind’ she explained. ‘I know how my black box wants me to drive and I want to save money on my insurance premium… so I’m not going to hurry up, whatever.’

I suspect she was going to be a good ie safe driver whatever, whereas sadly a black box isn’t always going to stop young drivers from flooring the accelerator pedal when the testosterone kicks in.

FOXY legislation I’d like to see…

The fact is that nothing teaches young drivers how to drive safely better than experience itself when it comes to their understanding the dynamics of speeding and the affect of this on their car’s engine. And just for the record, this is why I don’t advocate raising the driving age from 17 here.

But age aside, if I were in charge, I would introduce FOXY legislation tomorrow and make it compulsory that, during the first two years after passing their test, all novice drivers…

1 …commit in writing to not drink and drive.

2 …have a black box fitted to their car.

3 …who drive badly afterwards are referred by their insurance company to the DSA who then decide whether to insist on the equivalent of PassPlus lessons or withhold their licence for 12 months before taking a second driving test (all at the driver’s expense).

4 …display a highly visible N plate on any car they drive. I’d add a phone line where motorists report dangerous N plate drivers they see; resulting in a similar formula as 2…

5 …have a speed limiter fitted, restricting their car to a maximum of 50 mph at all times.

6 …are forbidden to carry passengers other than older (hopefully responsible) adults/parents.

As I see it, we can EITHER do nothing and count young deaths OR we can do something radical in an attempt to save lives.

I’d prefer to do something, and at least I can make sure that Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (including Road Safety) Stephen Hammond MP reads this blog via his Twitter address @SHammondMP.

But I’d like to know what you think. Are you with me or am I wrong in your eyes? By all means tell me what you think via my Twitter address @FOXYtweets. Or by emailing me on steph@foxyladydrivers.com.

Just don’t tell me these FOXY measures would infringe young drivers’ human rights etc etc. That attitude makes me SO cross because it sounds as if grief-stricken parents don’t have human rights as well – to see their children thrive and live longer happy lives.

FOXY Steph

Risky rural motorists are mainly male

stmartinsWe’ve all seen it happen. You’re driving along a rural road, following a slower driver at the head of the queue perhaps, and here comes the daft driver in your rear mirror as he (yes it’s usually a he) weaves in and out of cars behind you, then yours and onwards; even on seemingly blind bends whilst he presumably gets a macho high from the risks he runs.

And then you see the car in the distance on the next dual carriageway, having reduced his journey by a few mindless minutes… What was all that about eh?

A recent survey carried out by road safety charity Brake and car insurer Direct Line found that a quarter of male drivers risk catastrophic head-on crashes by overtaking blind in this way, whilst nearly half (44%) admit speeding at 60mph+ on rural roads. Apparently men are much more likely to take these deadly risks than women, and more than twice as likely to have been involved in an overtaking near-miss or incident.

To be precise their research found that during the past year…
– Almost one in four men (24%) and one in six women (18%) admitted overtaking when they couldn’t be certain nothing was coming.
– One in five men (20%) and one in 10 women (9%) have been involved in an overtaking near-miss or incident while driving.
– More than half of all drivers (54%) have witnessed an overtaking near-miss or incident by another driver, with one in five (19%) experiencing a vehicle approaching on their side of the road.
– Over half of women (52%) have been afraid when travelling as a passenger when their driver has overtaken another vehicle.
– More than four in 10 men (44%) have broken a 60mph limit on a rural road, compared to one in four women (24%); men are twice as likely to do this monthly or more.

In 2011 six in 10 UK road deaths were on rural roads. Out of every four killed, three are male.
Brake is pressing for government and local authority action to lower speed limits on rural roads to 50mph or lower and implement measures to deter speeding and overtaking, especially on crash black-spots and road that pass through rural communities.

Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer at Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Some people kid themselves they can get away with excessive speeds and dangerous manoeuvres, because they know the road. Yet driving on rural roads is highly unpredictable, and the consequences of risk-taking often horrendous. Our advice is avoid overtaking unless essential, stay well within limits, and slow right down for bends, brows, in bad conditions and in communities.”

Simon Henrick, spokesperson at Direct Line Car Insurance, said: “More than three people die on rural roads in the UK each and every day and many of these deaths could be prevented. Our own data suggests that young drivers and their passengers are even more likely to die on this type of road. Drivers should remember that patience is a virtue when it comes to deciding to overtake another vehicle, as it could be a life saver.”

foxy_lady.mugI’d like to echo Ellen’s sentiments to “Hang back, slow down and chill out.”

The irony of all this is that the Gender Directive means that women are to pay more for their car insurance to go towards these accidents.

Which women are much less likely to cause than men.

How unfair is that?

FOXY Steph

Women drivers taken to the cleaners

It seems that motoring Mums and daughters are the silent audience that car insurers are targeting from December onwards so they can underwrite more profitable business in future.

This is unfair treatment of women drivers however you look at it and nobody, other than FOXY Lady Drivers Club of course, seems prepared to stand up for women’s best interests here.

Reading about the subject I find that young women take an average of 51.9 lessons from qualified driving instructors compared to 36.2 for young men (DfT research 2004).

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why most young women drivers are safer and more considerate than many young men?

And why it makes little sense to rate young men and young women drivers as the same motor car insurance risk; which is precisely what is due to happen as a result of the forthcoming gender equality ruling in December 2012. Which is deeply unfair to most women drivers because it flies in the face of years of statistics that prove different gender motoring profiles.

To the extent of being sexist and ageist even?

Add to this the perennial debate that young drivers need more lessons such as taking a PassPlus course to gain insurance discounts…

Yet if I had invested in 15 more lessons than my male counterpart before passing my test (at an average £20 per lesson that’s c£300 more I’d have spent), I’d feel I had paid enough already. And if that difference was PassPlus or got me an insurance discount, I’d say that was self evident.

Like it or not driving ability is a gender thing and age is a key consideration too. Young men are naturally more confident drivers (it’s proven to be because of testosterone levels) than many young women hence their seeming to need fewer lessons before passing their test.

But this is but a false dawn because statistics confirm men attract 92 per cent of all driving convictions and 98 per cent of convictions for dangerous driving. So the driving test isn’t preparing them for a safe driving career whereas perhaps more lessons might…

According to the UK Treasury, taking gender out of the car insurance equation will result in a general levelling of premiums, with women under 45 paying an extra £920 million a year with men paying £620 million less. Women under 25 could see their premiums leap by a quarter, while men the same age will save 10 per cent. And there’s an interesting £300 million gap…

The outcome is clear – simply raising insurance prices for women isn’t going to result in fewer accidents – all it will result in is that young women pay for accidents they don’t cause and insurers get richer.

Or put another way – women drivers are being taken to the cleaners.

FOXY Steph

What you need is sustained outrage – there’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority” Molly Ivins, American humorist and political commentator 1944 -2007

Men vs women drivers

Yes it’s that old chestnut again! We all know that men are more dangerous drivers than women ‘in general’ because insurance statistics tell us this time after time.

But all that happens when we mention this is that too many men take this as a personal affront so the debate flounders while male egos are calmed and restored.

Whereas women are more likely to say ‘you’re right dear’ and ‘let’s do what needs doing to reduce the number of avoidable and tragic deaths on our roads’. No gender game here in most female eyes I’d say.

Yet I fully understand why men might feel hard done by because in saying women are better/safer drivers and that men are more dangerous drivers we are talking about genders ‘in general’. This allows for the fact that middle aged men and women are much of a similarly safe insurance statistic, older women (over 60s) are more prone to minor bumps and accidents but majors on the worrying area that young men are the ones much more likely to cause fatalities and serious road injuries.

So why do we continue to publish the same old statistics if we don’t do something to address these gender/age differences? Often because the PC lobby seems to think that both genders/all ages should be treated the same. Much as the recent and crazy EU insurance mandate ends the era for women and low insurance rates despite our being statistically less likely to kill or maim others on the road, and in the knowledge that we have less expensive accidents in general.

Here are a few ways we might do things differently for genders.

1    A dedicated Refresher Driving Course for women aged 60+. FOXY will happily get involved here. The FOXY the brand is a female one meaning shrewd, canny and astute; spot on for doing this for women surely without upsetting men. An accreditation programme that needs refreshing every 5 years, successful participants could earn discounts from participating insurers. Any interested sponsors out there?

2    Let’s consider new drivers taking a minimum number of lessons before their test. We know that young men, who are naturally more confident drivers than women, are more confident and likely to pass their test in fewer lessons than women. Instead of this being a macho badge of honour (it certainly doesn’t make them better drivers) let’s recognise that some drivers are allowed loose on our roads too soon and do something about this.

3    Why shouldn’t young men be required to take the Pass Plus course before they get ANY insurance? The cost of this could be discounted against their insurance premium because they are now less likely to cause serious accidents than they might have done otherwise.

The sad thing is that young drivers are actively being discriminated against by insurers because few can afford to get insurance nowadays. The crazy thing is that having made motoring so elitist for the young the insurers are actively reducing the number of drivers they can insure.

Yes I hear insurers complaining that they haven’t made any money out of car insurance for ages <bless…> yet by increasing premium (to make c£250 profit on each policy I’m told?) this either discourages young drivers from driving or encourages them to drive without insurance. Which is why (allegedly) premiums needed to rocket this year.

Yes I’m in favour of black box telematics recording when and how young drivers are driving but this is adding more cost surely…

Finally I cannot for the life of me understand why UK insurers should have to listen to the EU before being able to rate gender risks to suit their portfolio and UK balance sheet. Unless it is a good foil for them to earn more premium profit from women of all ages without any compulsion to reduce the rates they charge men?

After  the latest survey confirming that men are nearly twice as likely to be involved in a collision, I see that IAM chief executive Simon Best suggests  “We need to look at the psychology of male drivers to reduce risky behaviour and over-confidence, but for both sexes accidents could be easily reduced by improving driver skills and lives could be saved.  The government is moving towards this by introducing driver training for careless driving offences but all drivers should consider training. Driving is a life-long skill that requires life-long learning.”

Yes we agree Simon but isn’t this just scratching the surface? Men and women drivers aren’t the same and we shouldn’t be treated the same. Let’s adopt training programmes that treat men and women differently and let’s get down to tackling the nitty gritty gender requirements that we know need addressing.

FOXY Steph

Women drivers who are members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club can rely on a fast and female friendly accident management service that always puts their best interests first. Whether the accident was their fault or not.

Young female drivers insurance deterrent

Now that the EU is dictating common-rated gender car insurance premiums in future, fewer young women drivers will be able to afford to learn to drive and those that can will surely face the full force of motor insurance scams which are more likely to be caused by and involve men.

According to Confused.com the average fully comprehensive car insurance premium rose by 38% in 2010 and now stands at £695. These rates are influenced by the fact that 15% of young drivers currently cause 31% of all accidents leading to 40% of all motor insurance claims. As things stand, the average premium for a 17-20 year old male is currently a staggering £2,976 and for women £1,694. Come December 2012 women will pay considerably more than they do now and men slightly less we think – either way this is more than most young drivers will pay for their first car.

Which is why I see this as the equivalent of a new and unfair ‘tax’ on young females in particular from working and middle class families, facing higher University fees on the horizon and who probably can’t afford to drive in future now that the cost of insurance will rise so much. The truth is that  children from more wealthy families stand a much better chance of their parents paying for their car, their insurance and their education. Which seems unfair to me.

No wonder insurers are worried if fewer (of the safer) motorists can afford their products in future.

The reason car insurance premiums have risen so much for men and women drivers alike is to pay for accidents caused by uninsured drivers, for staged ‘cash for crash’ accidents and the ever increasing practice of submitting fraudulent claims. All of these have a self fulfilling and cyclical feel to them in that the higher the premiums, the more appealing it is to drive uninsured or to prepare a fraudulent claim; therefore the higher the premiums need to be to pay for them and so on…

Confused.com wants better data sharing between the DVLA and insurers to help reduce instances of fraud. Quite right. They also want the test to be harder but we see this as a crude method to clobber young women again when we aren’t the real risk on the roads. It’s the young men who cause the majority of serious accidents remember, being much more confident drivers more likely to put their foot down, and who tend to pass the test after fewer lessons than more cautious women. Which is perhaps why we are the safer drivers I feel.

So any attempt to make the driving test tougher for us is likely to hit young women harder than young men; and cost us even more to pass than it does already.

This is all such a mess.

In an attempt to be seen as politically correct when dealing with Mars and Venus matters we are clobbering less confident and more cautious young women drivers when we should be tackling the more accident-prone male mindset here. We should rate men as the known risk they are, invest some of their premium in gender marketing & education and reward the god male drivers. Is that so very difficult to do? And similarly with women…

Just don’t rate women the same as men when we aren’t.

Making the driving test harder, re-assessing the Pass Plus scheme, getting insurers to offer discounts for those who have had additional training and increasing the use of telematics devices (which Aviva pioneered and discontinued for cost reasons…) should all be reviewed of course.

But the penalty for being caught driving uninsured is ludicrously low – a maximum £1,000 with an actual average fine of £200. When they have saved so much money on not being insured? Who thought that formula up I wonder?

We should all be expected to wear our insurance on our windscreens like tax and any car with out of date or non existent evidence of insurance (this applies to SORN’d cars too I believe) should be reported by passing motorists. The penalties need to be a lot more realistic and punitive. If it was down to me I’d confiscate cars and licenses and make those that offend pay the costs of doing this.

Something needs to be done to stop women becoming the soft target for even more unfair increases in their insurance.

FOXY Steph

If you feel this is unfair, please join FOXY Lady Drivers Club and add your voice to ours – women drivers need to be heard not forgotten after the EU ruling.