An insurance company is today launching the ‘T-plate’, a new concept designed to help young drivers with telematics feel safer on the roads.
The plate, which will look similar to a learner’s ‘L’ plate or the ‘P’ plate that can be displayed by recently-qualified motorists, will indicate to other road users that the vehicle is fitted with a black box and having their driving monitored, according to Co-Op Insurance.
As of 9 September, hundreds of Co-op’s young drivers will trial the T-plate and, based on their feedback, the insurer is likely to roll out thousands more in the coming months.
Safety: The T-plate will indicate to other road users that the vehicle is fitted with a black box
The firm came up with the idea, which is backed by road safety charity Brake and RED driving school, after conducting research that found 53 per cent of 17 to 25 year olds feel pressured and bullied by other motorists to drive faster.
As a result, 24 per cent said they physically felt unsafe when they drive.
When asked what would help young drivers feel safer on the roads, 69 per cent said they wished other motorists knew they were driving with a black box and so must drive responsibly.
It revealed that 80 per cent of motorists are aware of black boxes, yet nothing currently exists to indicate if a motorist is driving with telematics.
Co-Op Insurance spoke to over 24,000 of its young motor insurance customers along with 4,000 UK motorists of all ages.
It found that four in five have experienced another road user intimidating them by driving too close behind.
Almost three quarters (72 per cent) have also been subject to a driver overtaking them when it wasn’t safe to do so.
What is black box insurance?
Telematics insurance involves having a small device fitted in your car that will measure how well you drive.
It will monitor how fast you are going, how far you travel and how harsh or smooth your braking is.
If you can prove to your insurer you are a safe driver, it will likely lower your premiums.
This is often recommended for young or new drivers as a way to reduce their insurance costs which are often much higher than experienced drivers.
A further 43 per cent have been on the receiving end of rude hand gestures and 27 per cent had been shouted at by another driver.
Some 21 per cent added they felt pressured by another driver to pull out at a junction when it wasn’t safe, ramping up their stress levels.
With 30 per cent of young drivers experiencing these behaviours on a weekly basis, 23 per cent have said they feel anxious on the roads and unsafe.
Highlighting the extent of the challenge facing young drivers, 35 per cent of more mature motorists aged 26 and over say they are not mindful of others on the roads.
Some 86 per cent admitted they often get frustrated by other road users, with 48 per cent admitting to sounding their horns at others when angry, despite this being against the law.
Meanwhile, 37 per cent of motorists over the age of 26 have flashed their lights in frustration at another driver and 26 per cent have sworn at another motorist.
21% of young drivers said they felt pressured to pull out at a junction when it wasn’t safe
Could the introduction of T-plates be the answer?
The Transport Select Committee is currently hearing evidence from road safety experts to understand if the government should introduce ‘graduated driving licences‘ for new motorists in Britain to cut the number of accidents involving young motorists.
These would see new licence holders potentially face driving curfews, limits on what passengers they can take in their cars and power restrictions for their vehicles in the first months they’re legally allowed behind the wheel alone.
Dr Neale Kinnear, head of behavioural science at the Transport Research Laboratory, told the committee that if graduated licences had been brought in following a Department for Transport-commissioned review in 2013, 122 fatalities could have been prevented by 2018.
While not part of a graduated licence scheme, Co-op Insurance’s nationwide pilot of the ‘T-plate’ would be a less restrictive means of making the roads safer for the least experienced drivers.
Charles Offord, Managing Director of Co-op Insurance said: ‘It’s unacceptable that so many young drivers are feeling pressured by others on the roads. Ultimately, every driver should be adhering to speed limits and driving in line with the law, but we know that isn’t always the case.
‘Instead of being role-models, too many older drivers are exacerbating what is already a testing time for new and less-experienced road users.
‘Drivers with black boxes will see their insurance premiums increase, or in some extreme cases, their policies cancelled if they don’t drive as they should. Yet, currently it’s impossible for other motorists to know if another vehicle has a black box fitted.
‘Young drivers want other motorists to understand this and that’s why we’re launching the T-plate.’
When asked, 60 per cent of Co-op’s young drivers said the T-plate would make them feel less pressured and 47 per cent believe it would change the way other motorists drive around them.
A number of young drivers said having a T-plate would make them more confident driving
A further 18 per cent said it would make them feel more confident when driving.
James Doyle, one of Co-op’s young drivers, said: ‘After months of learning I was so happy to finally be able to drive by myself. What I wasn’t prepared for was the pressure I would feel from other drivers wanting me to go faster.
‘At times I’ve even had to pull over to regain my confidence. I just wish that other drivers understood how their driving makes me feel.’
Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns at Brake added: ‘Young drivers’ combination of youth and inexperience makes them more likely to take risks and less likely to spot hazards – a potential lethal combination when behind the wheel.
‘Telematics can play a vital role in nudging young drivers to drive more safely and within the law, but this needs to be aided by the behaviour of the more experienced drivers on the road who must avoid aggressive driving and show patience to those with a lack of experience.’
For young drivers who wish to take part in the trial, they can join by heading to Co-Op Insurance’s website.