The term young drivers, in an insurance context, tends to refer to drivers normally between the ages of 17 and 25 years old. This can sometimes be seen as a slightly patronising term, but in fact is simply a reflection of an age group that the insurance industry deems to be most at risk and therefore the most expensive group of car owners to insure.
Whilst any generalisation is to some extent unfair, there is a lot of statistical evidence that supports the fact that the majority of claims and the majority of expensive claims that the insurance industry has to pay out comes from this age range of drivers.
There are two main areas of concern to this age group. Firstly is the fairly obvious fact that because of their age they have not been able to build up a sufficient level of driving experience that give them the benefit of being able to drive more safely and securely than people of an older generation might be able to do. There is also a belief that people of this age group tend to be slightly more irresponsible and erratic in their driving habits than people who are in their late 20s, 30s etc. This may or may not be true, but nevertheless is a factor in the amount that insurance companies will charge.
Young drivers will inevitably pay a much higher insurance cost for their car insurance than people of an older age group. Whilst they are gaining a level of experience that allows them to drive safely they will be developing a level also of what is known as road awareness. It is this sense of being able to “read the road” that will significantly affect their ability to drive safely, and subsequently their safety record and amount they pay for their car insurance.
Reading the road is a term applied to people who drive, and tends to be a sense that people pick up of what is happening around them they pay particular attention to. This normally involves paying attention to what other cars, cyclists, lorries, pedestrians and other road users are doing around them and anticipating what actions they might take, and what the consequences of those actions might be. Reading the road is also about applying the correct level of speed to any given situation at a conscious level. This normally refers to driving slowly rather than driving fast, but reflects more generally a sense of appropriateness to the speed of driving in any particular situation.
The other level of concern often raised concerning this age group in relation to car insurance, is that as an age group they are easily distracted, or more easily distracted than people of a different age group might be. Traditionally this has always been seen as distraction in the sense of having friends of theirs of a similar age in the car, possibly showing off to them by driving too fast or recklessly. It has also raised concerns about driving at night when visibility and road conditions are much more difficult to manage.
Distraction amongst young drivers, as well as most other drivers, has become a major issue much more in recent times because of the advent of cellphones and ability of drivers to make calls and send and receive SMS messages at the same time. Research by the United States government shows that this is as dangerous potentially as that of drink-driving. Distraction is a major concern because it is in the split-second where people need to be aware of and focused of what is going on around them that decisions are made which profoundly affect the safety of the driver, the passengers and other road users who may be involved in any potential incident.