GB’s young drivers outperform European neighbours

An international research study from AXA has shown that young British drivers are a better risk on the road than some of their European counterparts.

29 March 2010

Posted in Product

by Miranda Bellord (see media contact)

Statistics [1] from the company show that, while young drivers are a significantly worse risk on the road than more experienced drivers, motorists under the age of 25 years old (U25) in GB are more than 30% less likely to claim than those of a similar age in Spain or France and around 25% less likely to claim than the U25 in Germany. [2]

On top of this, the international report from AXA shows that when it comes to driving behaviour:

  • 24% of drivers under 25 years in Britain admit to significantly exceeding the speed limit [3] on the motorway against a European average of 38%. The figure for GB drivers as a whole is 21%.
  • 35% of the U25s in Britain drive too fast in built up areas (above 65kph/40mph) against a European average of 52%. The figure for all British drivers is 27%.
  • Around 5% of young British drivers will get behind the wheel after more than two alcoholic drinks whereas the average is 18%. In Italy, the figure is 31% and in Portugal 34%. The overall GB figure is 4%.
  • Across Europe, 32% of young drivers will overtake on a solid white line but in GB this figure is just 13%. For all drivers in Britain this figure is 15%.
  • 12% of GB's young drivers will overtake on the inside lane of the motorway compared with an average of 16% in Europe. For British drivers as a whole this figure rises to 21%.
  • However, our young drivers are just above average when it comes to going through an amber light with 77% admitting to this against the European average of 76%. The GB overall average is lower at 71%.
  • And when it comes to driving for long periods (more than two hours) without a break, 59% of young drivers in Britain have behaved in this way against a European average of 58%. Among the overall British driving population this figure is 64%.

The research revealed that 52% of U25s in Great Britain know someone who was involved in an accident last year underlining the fact that, while they may be better than others in Europe, young drivers in GB are still high risk. In fact, a report from the ABI last year showed that young drivers are ten times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than more experienced drivers.

It also appears that the British motoring population as a whole is more focused on issues with young drivers than in other countries. When asked about key priority safety measures on our roads, 49% of Brits believe prevention programmes for young drivers are key with 24% citing it as their top priority. Across Europe, these figures fell to 41% and 19% respectively with greater emphasis in other countries being placed on motorbikes and trucks.

Further research from the company reveals that:

  • 25% of drivers believe the age limit for starting to drive should be increased,
  • 57% believe a limit to the engine size permitted for young drivers should be introduced
  • and 14% would like to see curfews around when young drivers are legally allowed on the roads.

Craig Staniland, AXA Insurance director for motor said: "Young drivers are a concern for insurers and this research clearly shows that in key areas, such as speeding, young drivers are more likely to indulge in dangerous behaviours than others and more work needs to be done to educate them about the risks. However, in Britain we do seem to be performing better than our European neighbours and as a whole seem to be more concerned about the issues surrounding young drivers. AXA would like to see a return to what younger drivers might see as old fashioned values where there is more courtesy and respect on Britain's roads."


[1] 8000 drivers from ten European countries were polled by Ipsos in August 2009 (i.e. 800 per country). Countries included: Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Great Britain and France.

[2] Based on claims frequency figures from AXA's European operations.

[3] Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland: between 150-160kph; Germany: more than 160kph; Italy, Luxembourg and France: between 160-170kph; GB and Ireland: 90-100mph.