March 25, 2011

George Osborne may be putting fuel in the tank of the British economy, but today’s young Brits are going nowhere – thanks to the prohibitive cost of motor insurance.

As previously revealed by Bankstone News, youngsters today are turning their backs on car ownership, and this – if no lesser authority than Axa Personal Limes Insurance is to be believed – puts us all in imminent danger of death by dodgy driving.

If that sounds a little alarmist, allow us explain how it works. An ever-increasing proportion of youngsters who pass their tests don’t bother getting a car of their own because of the high cost of vehicle ownership and insurance. What chance do such individuals stand of developing into properly adjusted members of society?

Those in their teens and early twenties who do drive regularly are increasingly likely to be doing so either uninsured or as an additional driver on a fr*nting parent’s insurance policy – gateway behaviours, both, to a lifetime of casual ethical laxity. Social scientists warn that today’s insurance cheat is tomorrow’s aggravated burglar.

As the ECJ’s ruling on sex equality in insurance begins to bite, a whole generation of young females could be put off playing a full part in our car-owning democracy and forced into sharing taxis, taking a late-night solo trips in grubby unlicensed minicabs, or fatefully accepting a lift from that strange beardy man with the hairy hands.

But now Axa Personal Limes have uncovered a new threat more terrifying than any of these. They’ve done the research. They’ve thought through the full implications. They’ve even come up with a pithily punning name for the peril they’ve pinpointed: look out world, here come the “stop start drivers.”

No, it’s not that they’re a bit nervous on the brake pedal. Nor that they keeping stalling and restarting their engines. No: stop start drivers are those aged 17 to 29 (they’re generally OK after 30) who learn to drive but then don’t do it enough to develop the skills required to avoid unleashing car-borne carnage every time they get behind the wheel.

According to Axa there are a staggering 1.5m of these lunatics out there already – with one in five test-passers joining their ranks – who drive a couple of times a month at most, have completely forgotten how to operate a motor vehicle, and wouldn’t recognise the highway code if you drew a thick black line round the words ‘highway code’ on the cover and introduced them formally.

Clearly, if we can’t ensure young people buy cars and drive them regularly, Britain’s roads will soon become very dangerous places indeed. Axa Personal Limes Insurance motor director Sarah Vaughan, promises vaguely that her firm is “currently working on a number of potential solutions for younger drivers, including looking at product features.”

Insurance brokers, meanwhile, take an understanding attitude to the predicament of youngsters teetering on the brink of irregular driving. Axa’s research showed that “over eight in ten” brokers “struggle to find insurance for younger drivers, and almost two thirds believe that premiums are currently too high for young drivers.”

One in five brokers were so understanding of young people’s problems that they told Axa’s researchers they would turn a blind eye to fr*nting. Presumably they did so anonymously?


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