Stop Start Drivers – the growing threat on UK’s roads

A new study suggests that there is a new sub-class of 1.5 million young drivers who are a potential hazard to themselves and others on the road. Dubbed 'Stop Start Drivers', they are drivers aged 17-29 who, having passed their tests, rarely get behind the wheel. But when they do hit the road they are more likely to cause an accident (per hours spent on the road), having forgotten their highway code and lost their confidence behind the wheel.

19 March 2011

Posted in Product

Research from AXA suggests that, after passing their tests, nearly one in five (17%) of today's drivers aged between 17 and 29 will, at most, get behind the wheel only once or twice a month with around half of these driving even less than this - often with gaps of several years.

Asked to re-sit their tests, only one in five Stop Starters drove to a standard that would have passed, yet 100% of drivers who had recently passed their test were of a 'pass' standard.

Lacking basic road knowledge

The research reveals some alarming consequences of the Stop Start trend with just 45% of Stop Start Drivers confident that they remember all, or most, of what they learnt for their driving tests. A staggering 28% saying they remember nothing or very little. Those in this age group who drive regularly scored much higher with 72% saying they remembered all or most.

A series of questions about the highway code confirmed this with Stop Start Drivers consistently scoring considerably lower than those who drove more frequently. A dangerous lack of basic road awareness included:

  • 45% who wrongly identified the maximum speed limit on the motorway
  • 46% who failed to identify a no waiting sign
  • 23% who thought a no overtaking sign meant overtaking was allowed
  • a staggering 73% who didn't know what a zig zag line on the road meant

Low on confidence

On top of this, a lack of regular driving time has a huge impact on confidence with only 11% of Stop Start Drivers feeling very confident behind the wheel compared with 54% of regular drivers aged 17-29. 41% of Stop Starters think they would benefit from a refresher driving course before hitting the road although it's not a view shared by both genders with just 33% of men thinking it would be of benefit v 46% of women.

Accident prone

When it comes to accidents, despite spending less time on the road, Stop Start Drivers were no more likely to have been accident free than their counterparts who regularly drive. And the Stop Starters were more likely to have had four or more bumps that were their own fault.

Worryingly for those they bump into, a higher percentage of Stop Start drivers claimed to drive without insurance than younger drivers who regularly drive. When asked why they don't drive regularly, the main reason cited by Stop Start Drivers was the cost of buying and running a car and the cost of insurance.

Sarah Vaughan, AXA's motor director said: “Stop Start driving appears to be an increasing trend and difficult to address as an insurer. Among the under 30s you have some very good drivers but there are clearly issues with those who rarely drive. Our research shows that experience really does count at all ages.”