Young drivers at risk on our roads: are free licences the answer?

While P plate drivers make up only 8% of drivers on NSW roads, they’re involved in 15% of fatalities and according to the Come Home Safe report released recently by NRMA, young drivers are most at risk in the six months after getting their P plates.

The report listed factors including inexperience, poor judgement, risk-taking behaviour and underestimation of risk, along with a tendency to drive older or less safe cars as contributing to the increased risk that faces young drivers on Australian roads

The solution? An 8 point plan designed to combat these factors and keep young drivers safe on the roads, including mentoring programs and driver education.

One of the recommendations the report made was to reward good behaviour with a free unrestricted licence. At the moment, a one year licence in NSW costs $56, a three year licence is worth $134 and a five year licence has a price tag of $180.

“The NRMA believes such an initiative would act as an incentive to maintain a clean record, but also allow young people from vulnerable communities or those experiencing financial hardship to stay connected and access employment opportunities that may not have been available without the use of a vehicle,” the report outlined.

Other states, including WA, the Northern Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT, already have rewards for young drivers in place which mean they can get their unrestricted licence free of charge so long as they’ve kept  a clean driving history.

In NSW, drivers with a full licence who maintain a five year good driving record are rewarded with a 50% discount on the cost of renewing, but there are no such rewards for provisional drivers.

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The same factors that put young drivers at risk - inexperience, underestimation of risk and less safe cars - may also mean they wind up shelling out more for comprehensive car insurance.

Mozo research shows that a policy for drivers aged 20 and under has an average price of $2,549, compared to $1,070 for drivers between the ages of 25-29. Plus, young drivers are often hit with extra excesses which can range from $400 to $1,200 depending on the insurer and policy.

How to choose comprehensive car insurance for young drivers

One part of being a responsible driver is making sure you have enough insurance to cover any unexpected costs. But how do you choose the right policy? Here are a few key things young drivers may want to consider when shopping for a car insurance policy.

  • Cost vs cover. One of the major things you’ll need to make a decision about is how much you’re willing to pay for your car insurance policy. You might opt for a policy with all the bells and whistles - but keep in mind the price tag will reflect this level of cover. On the other hand, if you’re after a cheap policy, remember that there may be more things it doesn’t cover you for. Finding the right balance between the two is up to you. To get started, you can check out the winners of our Mozo Experts Choice Car Insurance Awards.

  • Excess. As mentioned above, young drivers might wind up paying extra excess on their car insurance, so it's worth keeping an eye on whether or not these apply to the policy you’re looking at. Another thing to consider is whether you have the option to choose a lower or higher excess, as this gives you more control over the price of your upfront premium.

  • Added extras. Many policies offer the choice to add additional cover for certain things - the most common example might be roadside assistance. This gives you the chance to tailor your policy to your needs. For example, a young driver might only need a basic, cheap policy, but may also want to add on roadside assistance for extra peace of mind.

  • Payment options. It’s also worth double checking what options you have to pay your premium. Some insurers offer discounts for drivers who pay their entire premium in a lump sum, while others offer the option to pay monthly at no extra cost, so you can do what suits your budget best.

Ready to pick out a comprehensive car insurance policy to keep your wheels safe? Head over to our car insurance comparison table to get started.