Insurer trials 'T' plates as half of young drivers feel pressured into speeding by other motorists

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 8:20 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 8:21 am

Young motorists feel pressured into unsafe driving by other road users, with four out of five having been the victim of aggressive or dangerous driving from other people.

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A new study found that half of drivers aged 17-25 felt pressured into speeding and a quarter didn’t feel safe while driving due to other motorists’ behaviour. The findings have prompted one supplier of telematics insurance to launch new T plates informing other drivers that a car is fitting with a black box tracking its drivers' behaviour.

Young drivers said they had experienced everything from rude gestures and swearing to tailgating and being cut up, making them nervous on the road. And the study found a third of older drivers admitted they weren’t mindful of other road users.

The research by Co-op Insurance asked 24,000 drivers aged 17-25 about their experiences since passing their test, as well as questioning 4,000 older drivers about their attitudes and behaviour.

(Photo: Co-op Insurance)

A shocking 80 per cent of young drivers said they had experienced other vehicles driving too close to them - known as tailgating - and 72 per cent had experienced another driver overtaking them when it wasn’t safe to do so. Fifty-three per cent said they had felt under pressure to speed and 28 per cent said they had been shouted at by other drivers. One in five said they had felt pressured to pull out of a junction when they didn’t feel it was safe to do so.

A third of older drivers openly admitted not considering other road users and more than half said they had previously driven too close to a car in front, with 39 per cent saying they did so because the other car was driving too slowly.

The findings have prompted Co-op Insurance to urge motorists to be more patient around new drivers and to trial the T plates as a new approach for drivers with black box insurance policies.

A growing number of young drivers are turning to telematics or black box insurance policies, which track their behaviour and can penalise them for bad driving, meaning they are reluctant to give into pressure from other drivers.

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In response to the results of its study, Co-op Insurance is piloting the new scheme so drivers who use telematics can alert other drivers via a “T” plate on their car.

The plates feature a large blue T in the same style as the traditional red L learner plates and green P plates used by some newly qualified drivers.

Charles Offord, managing director of Co-op Insurance commented: “It’s unacceptable that so many young drivers are feeling pressured by others on the roads. Ultimately, every driver should be adhering to speed limits and driving in line with the law, but we know that isn’t always the case.

“Instead of being role models, too many older drivers are exacerbating what is already a testing time for new and less-experienced road users.

“Drivers with black boxes will see their insurance premiums increase or, in some extreme cases, their policies cancelled if they don’t drive as they should. Yet, currently it’s impossible for other motorists to know if another vehicle has a black box fitted. Young drivers want other motorists to understand this and that’s why we’re launching the T plate.”

Almost two thirds of young drivers in the study said they would feel more comfortable if other drivers knew they had such a system fitted and therefore had to drive responsibly. And almost three-quarters of older drivers said that seeing a T plate would make them modify their driving to avoid putting pressure on the other motorist.

Nineteen-year-old James Doyle was one of the young drivers who took part in the study. He commented: "After months of learning I was so happy to finally be able to drive by myself. What I wasn't prepared for was the pressure I would feel from other drivers wanting me to go faster. I just wish other drivers understood how their driving makes me feel."

James Doyle with one of the new T plates (Photo: Co-op Insurance)

The scheme is being supported by Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, who believes it could encourage other drivers to be more considerate.

He said: ““As one of the UK’s biggest driving schools we understand the pressures young and newly qualified drivers face from others when on the roads. It’s such a shame that many novice drivers have to witness bad and dangerous behaviour, just because they themselves are sticking to the rules and speed limits.

“It’s my hope that the Co-op’s T plate will not only encourage more patience and tolerance from drivers, but that it will also serve as a reminder to others of the importance of driving safely and to the rules of the road.”

Road safety charity Brake has also backed the T plate idea. Director of campaigns Joshua Harris said: “Young drivers’ combination of youth and inexperience makes them more likely to take risks and less likely to spot hazards - a potential lethal combination when behind the wheel.

“Telematics can play a vital role in nudging young drivers to drive more safely and within the law, but this needs to be aided by the behaviour of the more experienced drivers on the road, who must avoid aggressive driving and show patience to those with a lack of experience.”