High car insurance costs: no accident

I've not been 17 for quite a while.  17 years, to be precise.  So it was rather retrospective when I started playing cricket for the youthful Ovington CC this spring.  The Second XI was populated extensively by guys almost half my age.  I wasn't much use at being 17 when I was 17, but now I was completely out of my depth, especially when conversations turned (inevitably) to cars.

Having very little interest in cars or driving, this isn't surprising, but I hadn't appreciated that car insurance for teenagers was so amazingly high.  17 year-old boys might race to pass their driving test, but the costs of buying and insuring a car soon put a damper on things.  One of the lads said he'd been quoted several thousands of pounds to be insured, even on a small car with a small engine, and even with his Dad as the named driver.

For a moment I sympathized, as having the freedom of a car is quite important when you're trying to break away from the shackles of your home, or your home town.  It is, of course, also important to a lot of lads who want to impress the girls.

But then I realized that, especially for boys, the high prices are no accident.  Well, actually, they are.  They are a whole series of accidents.  Statistically, teenage boys are dangerous drivers who cause lots of crashes.

So is there anything that can be done?  It is staggeringly unlikely that policy changes will change the mindset of those boys who want to drive fast, deluded in the belief that they know what they're doing, but perhaps mechanisms can be put in place to help identify young people who are better, safer drivers.

The government's New Drivers Act is all well and good, but I don't think punishment is really going to make a difference.  If insurance costs are very high, some drivers will do without, and hope they get away with it.  Others with insurance will simply drive dangerously because they want to, and hope they will get away with it too.

The Pass Plus system seems like a better approach, but I don't know how effective it really is.  Clearly, gaining experience of driving in different conditions, all whilst supervised by an approved instructor, will be beneficial.  The problem is, that the scheme has apparently had a minimal effect on reducing accidents involving new drivers, and insurers are therefore not reducing fees to those who hold the qualification.  An interesting quote comes from Professor Frank McKenna, a member of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety:

"The worst thing you can do with a young driver is increase their confidence without increasing their competence," he said.

At this juncture, I should note that, despite being twice 17 years old, I am neither a competent nor a confident driver.  I am not the person to be trying to solve the problem.  But a new approach is undoubtedly required.
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