Written by: Trevor Lloyd-Jones, Content Manager, LexisNexis Risk Solutions

The latest published road casualty figures for Great Britain make for rather depressing reading: there was practically no improvement in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents for the calendar year 2017.

A total of 26,624 people were killed or seriously injured in the year, with almost 171,000 casualties of all severities (down 6%) and 1,793 deaths (0% change) for the year. Meanwhile motor traffic levels increased by 1.1% between 2016 and 2017.

Due to changes in the methodology for police reporting of serious injuries it’s not possible to identify a clear year-on-year change in these types of incidents. But there are a number of factors that have combined together to worsen some aspects of safety on our roads last year. Officials noted that in particular, there was a rise in fatalities involving vulnerable road users such as pedestrians (up 5%) and motor cyclists (up 9%).

The number of KSIs (those killed or seriously injured) amongst children aged 15 and under was down by 2% for the same period.

There are some other positive trends seen when drilling down into the detailed data for young, legal-age drivers (17-19 year olds), showing the future for insurance and driver behaviour.

Telematics insurance has helped cut car casualty rates amongst 17-19 year olds by over a third (35.3%) since 2011, over a period when total car casualties (defined as all deaths and serious injuries involving car occupants) fell by just 16.1%.

For the year 2017 compared to 2016, total road casualties of all severities amongst 17-24 year olds were down 8% to 32,810 whilst for the overall driver population casualties dropped by 6% to 170,993. Older casualties (aged 60 and over) were also down by 4% to 22,375 for the year.

Compared to the 2010-2014 average, casualties of all severities for the 17-24 year old group are now down by 24%.

Young drivers must be encouraged to make the right decisions

Young drivers face such a tough challenge when taking to the roads for the first time: the number of young drivers has been decreasing due to the high cost of taking the test and motoring costs overall.

According to the National Travel Survey, in 2017 just 29% of 17-20 year-olds held a driving licence, compared to 33% in 2015 and 48% back in 1994. In these figures 26% of 17-20 year olds cited the “cost of learning” as the main reason for not having a licence.

Around 8% of 17-20 year olds now say they would “never” be interested in learning to drive.

Also, according to the ABI’s published figures, the average motor insurance premium for 18- to 20-year-olds is around £972, compared to an average of £360 for all age groups. An updated figure of £993 was recently given in oral evidence to the House of Commons Petitions Committee and Transport Committee.

Other recent research by a comparison website put the average (cheapest) first quote for a 17-year-old driver at £2,232.

It’s especially disappointing, therefore, that the government still has yet to recognise and incentivise those young people who stay the right side of the law – stumping up for the high cost of insurance – by removing telematics policies from the Insurance Premium Tax.

Comparing road casualties for young drivers and the trends for all drivers, it’s striking that four in five young drivers are estimated to have a telematics policy today. Taking a deep dive into the road casualty data for 2017 also shows that the steady fall in casualties for 17-19 year olds comes at a time when road traffic levels continue to rise year after year, by more than 1%.

The improving behaviour of young drivers is also in direct relation to the exponential 400% growth in telematics policies since 2011 with 975,000 live policies in 2017, suggesting telematics has done more to cut accident risk than any other road safety initiative aimed at the young driver market.

Telematics-based insurance policies provide these younger drivers with a tangible way of reducing the current high insurance costs. At the same time, this also presents a great opportunity for insurers, in a period when telematics hardware costs are falling sharply and risk scoring models are becoming more sophisticated.

Indeed, a recent article from Insurance Business UK pointed to the trend towards more segments of drivers (especially low-mileage drivers) moving towards pay-as-you-go coverage, not just young motorists and others traditionally regarded as ‘high risk’.

We believe analysis like this is vitally important, to show the benefits for the consumer, as well as to show technology advances, and where telematics insurance is going in the future. Recent developments in apps and hardware for tracking driving behaviour have made it possible to offer telematics insurance at a very low cost and benefit from the claims reductions and improved fraud detection capabilities in the process.

Those insurers that can move quickly with telematics will be able to achieve a competitive advantage in pricing and in processes. They will be able to use analytics and motor telematics beyond just customer attraction, and deliver personalised insurance products that attract the best risks, and mitigate against the worst risks.

At LexisNexis Risk Solutions we believe there is also a social obligation for the insurance industry to take this path, the path of more personalised pricing based on actual risk, and using data for driver feedback and safer driving (ultimately saving lives).

For more insights into this research download the white paper The Social Benefits of Telematics-The Role Telematics Plays in Reducing Road Casualties.

Follow the link to the LexisNexis Risk Solutions website to find out more about how we support insurers.

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