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‘Can’t drive? Won’t drive!’ - A third of young adults say it is too expensive to learn to drive or own a car

05 March 2014

The costs of car ownership can place a heavy burden on young drivers, so much so that over a third (35%) of non-drivers aged between 17 and 25 have decided it’s now just too expensive to learn to drive or to own a car.

32% of young people responding to the survey commissioned by Gocompare.com said that they believe they spend less using public transport than it would cost them to run a car, but 22% admit to feeling trapped at home by not being able to get around more.

The survey also revealed that, on average, young drivers spend £1,831.40 a year keeping their car on the road, with four in five (80%) spending up to 30% of their income on running their car. Almost two fifths (39%) of young drivers spend over £2,000 a year. And even just obtaining a full driving licence can cost around £1,381* in driving lessons, licence and test fees.

18% of young drivers turn to their parents for help with their motoring expenses whilst 15% of 17 to 25 year old drivers hold a full licence but can’t afford to own a car themselves.

Gocompare.com’s chief operating officer, Lee Griffin, said: “Learning to drive and owning your own car used to be something of a rite of passage for young adults but now it seems that many are just finding it too expensive. Car insurance is one of the biggest expenses for an inexperienced driver but there are ways to try to reduce the cost as you build up a safe driver record and no claims discount.”

Gocompare.com’s young driver insurance tips:

Shop around! – There will be a vast difference between the lowest and highest quotes from different insurers. Choose the cover you need and compare lots of insurer’s premiums using an established comparison site. Some insurers will be more competitive than others for different drivers, vehicles and regions so there’s no such thing as a ‘best buy’ car insurance policy for every driver.

Start small – As a young driver your insurance premiums will be more affordable if you drive a standard car with a small engine (under or around 1,000cc, for example) and in a low insurance group. It may not be your dream car with a high top speed and modifications but it’s wise to drive something smaller and slower until you’ve built up some no claims discount and have shown a safe driving record.

Increase your excess - You may be able to lower your premium by increasing your excess. Opting for a higher voluntary excess could help lower your insurance premiums. Be warned, however, that you will need to carefully consider if paying a slightly lower premium is worth the risk of having to contribute more towards the cost of a claim if you have to make one.

‘Black boxes’/telematics – You could also consider a telematics policy where a GPS-enabled black box is fitted to the car. The black box sends information back to the insurer about your driving behaviour. Different types of telematics policies use this information to price their premiums accordingly, for example, some policies will price their premiums based on the number of miles driven or the time of day the car is used most, others will price their premiums based on driving style, rewarding safe drivers with lower premiums. And some use a combination of some or all of these factors!

Named drivers - Adding another driver with a clean licence and several years’ claim free driving to your policy could reduce your premium. But if you are the main driver make sure you’re noted as the main driver on the policy. If you say the other person is the main driver because they have a better driving history you’re committing a fraud known as ‘fronting’ and you could invalidate your insurance. Also be sure to get consent from the person(s) who you’d like to add as a named driver so that they know to declare that they have access to another car when getting their own insurance quotes.

Ditch unnecessary extras - Think about whether you would really need a courtesy car if your car were to be taken off of the road. A number of insurers include the use of a courtesy car as a standard feature of the policy, but some insurers now offer this as an optional extra. If you think you could manage without a courtesy car, it’s worth seeing how much you could save by removing it from your policy.

Some policies also include other features which you may not need but could still be paying for. Breakdown assistance and legal assistance are sometimes offered as an extra on some policies. Check exactly what cover is included within your premium to ensure you are only paying for the services you need.


Notes to editors:

On 20th November 2013, One Poll conducted an online survey among 1000 randomly selected British adults between the ages of 17 and 25.

*The Driving Standards Agency suggests that the average learner driver needs 47 lessons and 22 hours of private practice before they pass their test. Using the AA average lesson cost of £24 this would total £1,128. Applying for a provisional licence costs £50.The driving theory test costs £31. The practical driving test costs £62 or £75 depending on the time booked plus there’s the additional cost of borrowing your instructor’s car for the test. With most people failing their first test the estimated cost for two weekday tests borrowing your instructor’s car for each is £172.00. Total £1,381.