Do New Drivers Really Have More Accidents?

We examine new driver accident rates in the first year of driving and the costs involved.

Published: 10th November 2017

New drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident in the first few years after passing their test.

This is often due to a mixture of inexperience, over-confidence, and younger drivers being more likely to take risks.

At ALA we carried out some research into accidents involving new drivers. Using Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and conducting a national survey, we examined new driver accident rates in the first year of driving and the costs involved.

New Driver Accidents and Expenses

New Driver Accidents in First Year

According to our national survey data, more than one in five new drivers admitted to having an accident in their first year of driving. Based on the driving test pass rate in the UK between April 2016 and March 2017, this equates to an estimated 176,000 new drivers being involved in an accident in the same timeframe.

On a regional basis, Scotland, the North East and the West Midlands were the top three regions with the highest percentage of new driver accidents. Coventry, Chelmsford, and Aberdeen were the individual cities which saw the highest number of accidents involving new drivers within the first year of driving.

At the other end of the scale, the North West, Wales and the East Midlands were the regions that had the fewest new driver accidents in 2016/17. At a city level, Aberystwyth, Gloucester, Southampton and Swansea had the lowest number of accidents involving new drivers.

Driving Expenses

As well as being faced with some of the highest insurance premiums, new driver accidents can be expensive to deal with too. Nearly two-thirds (65.73%) of new drivers who had an accident in their first year of driving incurred an expense due to damaging either their own or someone else’s vehicle. Almost a third incurred an expense of over £400, while for one in ten it was more than £1,000.

New Driver Accidents - Expenses

Portsmouth and Coventry were the two cities with the largest average expense due to new driver accidents, at £3,750 and £2,326 respectively. Added to the cost of buying a first car, insurance and more, this could have a severe impact on an individual’s finances.

Gender Differences

There were notable differences between the new driver accident rates for males and females, with about one in five new female drivers involved in accidents, compared to almost one in four new male drivers. Of these new drivers who had accidents, a similar number of both genders incurred an expense due to an accident in their first year (67.8% of female drivers and 63.25% of males).

New Driver Accidents - Male Statistics

For incident-related expenses over £1,000, the percentage for women (13.55%) was more than double that of men (6.12%).

New Driver Accidents - Female Statistics

New Driver Issues

As well as large expenses new drivers are also getting points on their licences and even being disqualified from driving, giving some indication of the potential severity of their driving errors.

Based on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, the number of new drivers who were either disqualified from driving or received points on their licence in their first year were highest in the following locations:

Town/City Number of prosecuted “new drivers”
London 1582
Glasgow 554
Birmingham 441
Manchester 361
Bristol 335
Liverpool 300
Nottingham 250
Leeds 226
Edinburgh 196
Sheffield 193

 
Using this information, we then analysed the data as a percentage against 2016/17 passes in the specific areas, to find representational figures.

 

The Top 10 Cities for New Driver Issues

The number of new drivers disqualified in the first year of driving + the number of new drivers who got points on their licence in their first year.

Location Number of Drivers as a Percentage of 2016/17 Passes in the Area
Leeds 12.24%
Glasgow 7.69%
Nottingham 5.13%
Bristol 4.12%
Sheffield 3.67%
Edinburgh 3.65%
Birmingham 3.45%
Liverpool 3.21%
London 1.68%
Manchester 1.48%

 

Topping the list was Leeds, with more than one in ten new drivers either receiving points on their licence or being disqualified in their first year of driving. London and Manchester appear significantly further down the list, with less than 2% of new drivers being prosecuted in both cities.

Disqualified New Drivers

Approximately 3,200 or 0.4% of people who passed their driving test between April 2016 and March 2017 were disqualified from driving in the first 12 months.

Of these, 28% were between the ages of 19 and 21, and 25% were between the ages of 22 and 25. 18 and 19 was the most common age for drivers to be disqualified with 443 being 18 and 379 being 19. A staggering 87% of disqualified new drivers were also male.

In Leeds, for the period 2016/17 29 new drivers were disqualified, equating to 1.6% of people that passed their driving test in that area – almost four times the national average.

New Driver Penalty Points

In comparison, over 18,000 new drivers (2.2%) received points on their licence, 77% of these were male and again the highest percentages were for drivers between 19 and 21 at 26% and 17 and 18-year-olds at 25%.

Again, Leeds had the highest percentage of new drivers receiving penalty points on their licence compared to passes in the area, at 10.67%. This was followed by Glasgow, with 7.3% of new drivers receiving points on their licence.

In comparison, the percentage of new drivers receiving points in London was just 1.48%, despite this equating to 1,387 new drivers – more than seven times the number in Leeds.

These findings do reinforce the idea that new drivers are involved in a larger number of accidents. Of these new drivers it is mainly the younger population (17-25) and males that are most at risk when they have just passed their driving test. These demographics were the most likely to have an accident or be disqualified in their first year of driving. This raises the question whether any action could be taken to help reduce these risks and make our roads and road users safer.

Published: 10th November 2017
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