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Many road users may be unaware that the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have made recommendations for new restrictions on young drivers, including raising the legal driving age to 18, implementing a minimum 12 month period of learning to drive before any licence is awarded, and most worryingly to current drivers, a curfew between 11pm and 4am for non-work-related purposes. It’s been the topic of much debate in past months, but where have these ideas come from? Why now? And how will they affect you?

Curfew car insurance has been on the market for a long time now, offering young drivers discounted insurance premiums by restricting the times of day that they are covered to drive. This type of insurance usually utilises telematics, or black-box technology to monitor a person’s driving habits, and has been quite successful in reducing  the cost of car insurance for young drivers who can go without the use of their car during the restricted hours (usually around 11pm to 5am). The question now being raised by the ABI is, could imposing this curfew on all young drivers make driving on Britain’s roads safer for all road users and reduce the number of injuries and deaths we see in our young drivers?

According to a survey by Brake, 80% of parents of young drivers would support these kinds of restrictions. The survey also identified that a third of young drivers have been in a car whilst it was being raced by a friend, that one half of young drivers break the speed limit by at least 10mph, and one in five will drive a vehicle whilst drunk. Similarly, according to the ABI, one in eight UK drivers is under the age of 21, whilst they make up for a third of the people killed on the country’s roads. There isn’t really any dispute that young drivers generally are a greater risk for insurers, other road users, and themselves. But is a curfew the answer?

The curfew has been suggested as part of a call for the government to take more positive action in avoiding daily deaths of young drivers on Britain’s roads. It’s being argued that longer learning periods and less time on the road per day would not only reduce the number of RTA’s on Britain’s roads by making young drivers more experienced before allowing them to handle a vehicle alone, but also give these young drivers more driving experience before letting them drive at night – the time statistically when most accidents happen. The conflicting view is that, regardless of age, once you’ve passed your test you have been deemed fit to drive on UK roads, so why should it just be young drivers being penalised by these restrictions? They already suffer from hiked insurance premium costs, which are affecting all young drivers regardless of their individual skill, safety and driving history. There is a feeling that this curfew could be seen as further age group stereotyping. There are also concerns that this curfew would end up wasting a lot of police time, having them pulling over drivers suspected of being guilty of being under 24. Another major concern is the inevitable impact that this curfew would have on a young driver’s employability in an already difficult job market.

There is currently a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal, with no plans for its implementation as yet, and with the strong arguments on both sides it is unlikely that the restrictions will come into effect any time in the near future, but it is worth considering the impact that they would have on the safe and sensible young road users that aren’t in the news daily for racing and crashing. The worry is that imposing restrictions such as these on an entire group of drivers is not only unfair and discriminatory, but also unnecessary and fails to address the issue. It has been suggested that stricter punishment for incidents occurring during a new driver’s probation period (the first two years of holding a licence, where 6 points against your licence can get you banned) would be more effective at addressing the problem at its source, without victimising both the safe and reckless drivers in the age group. At present, the Department for Transport have said that they will not support the curfew, finding it counterproductive due to the needs of young drivers to attend college and work. Their focus seems to be more on improving the pass plus scheme and testing system.

The real concerns with these proposals are whether they will fulfil their intended purpose without being more discriminatory that protective. Though this is difficult to guess at, it’s easy to see where problems would arise in banning such a large portion of drivers from our roads. For now there is little for our young drivers to worry about, but government and highways agencies are looking for ways to curb the trend of reckless young drives, so it would be reasonable to expect some sort of further regulation in the not so far future.

This article was written by David Rendell, content writer for car insurance for young drivers comparison site, Confused.com.