For many younger people in their late teens and early 20s, qualifying to drive and getting out on the road means freedom and more independence from their family. Given that many millennials are now choosing to live at home well into their 20s to save money for a flat or even to pursue financial independence (thus being dubbed the Boomerang Generation), being able to drive is a rite of passage that offers more than it once did.
L Plate Displayed on the Car, But Now What?
Getting started with driving in the UK requires a provisional driving licence – which will set a young person back £34 – picking up an L plate to display it on their vehicle, and books covering the practical and theory tests to come.
For the under 25s, their journey is just beginning. While their reaction times will no doubt beat fifty-something drivers, their lack of road savvy will hold them back. With each hour of a driving lesson costing upwards of £24 depending on what part of the country they live in (cities are more, and London is the most expensive), the slower they adapt to driving, the more it will cost. Just like taking a black cab, the meter keeps on running until their journey ends.
Why Are Younger Drivers Charged More for Insurance?
It’s possible that younger drivers feel exploited when it comes to being charged higher insurance prices. However, it’s worth noting that people in their 40s or 50s who have previously never learnt to drive, qualify and seek insurance quickly discover their car insurance is surprisingly high too. In their case, it’s because of a lack of road experience.
For younger drivers, there’s sometimes an ‘act first, think later’ approach to life. Diving into situations without thinking things through and not having the benefit of enough life experience to know it’s a bad idea is commonplace. An older person would have said, “No, let’s not do that” while a millennial will go right ahead. That’s a young person trait, not a millennial one, but it can make them a dangerous driver on the road until they get ‘road smart’, which takes time.
The tendency to not look before they leap also impacts on driver and vehicle safety. More cautious driving and defensive driving to avoid accidents, e.g. slowing down or parking to get away from a drunk driver in front of them isn’t common. The “boy racer” tendency with young male drivers is also a phenomenon that causes additional accidents too.
All of the above factors contribute to higher insurance rates for younger (or inexperienced) drivers.
What Does It Cost to Learn to Drive?
The cost to learn to drive varies depending on how many lessons it takes to become a proficient driver and whether passing the practical and theory tests on the first try.
Using the recommended 47 hourly lessons at a cost of £24 per hour and adding related costs like a provisional license and tests, the total cost is around £1,100. This is the 5thhighest globally, making gaining freedom through driving an expensive proposition. Thankfully, it only has to be paid once.
Generally, young drivers are safe when they take due care on the road. While they cannot avoid the higher insurance costs initially, by getting a no-claims bonus built up, they can get their insurance costs down over time.