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ONE IN THREE UK DRIVERS UNAWARE

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   ONE IN THREE[1] UK DRIVERS UNAWARE OF NATIONAL SPEED
                             LIMIT

                                                                  [2]
To find out why driver error causes two out of three accidents ,uSwitch.com put over 2,500 experienced drivers
through their paces in a basic driving theory test. Just 1% of respondents answered all 16 questions
correctly and one in three (34%) scored less than 50%. Worryingly, almost one in ten (8%) got every question
        [3]
wrong . This could go some way to explain why both insurance claims and premiums are soaring through the
roof.



CAUSE
                                                                                  [1]
    1 in 3 drivers (33%) do not know the national speed limit                           – yet exceeding the speed limit
                                                                            [4]
    causes over 7,000 accidents, 14% of which are fatal
                                                                                                            [1]
    Over half (58%) of drivers are unaware of who has priority when traffic lights fail
              [3]
    14%             of motorists rely on speed limit signs to know how fast to drive – travelling too fast
                                                                                          [4]
    for conditions causes 16,000 accidents, 18% of which are fatal
AND EFFECT
                                          [5]
    Consumers pay £854 million                  extra for car insurance each year as a result of making just
                                                                                                                  [6]
    one claim. Insurers pay out over £23 million a day in claims – almost £1 million an hour
                                                                                    [6]
    £1,908 is paid out on average for each car insurance claim , a 23% or £355 increase since
              [7]                                                                                [8]
    2001 . This looks set to continue to grow by an average of £89 a year
                                                                [5]
    Claiming for just one accident adds £193 (44%)                    to the average motor insurance premium,
                                                                      [9]
    wiping out two years worth of no claims discount .


uSwitch.com[1] has tested over 2,500 motorists on basic driving theory. The results make
sobering reading, with just 1% of respondents answering all questions correctly. Overall, one
in three people (34%) scored less than 50% and almost one in ten (8%) got every question
wrong[3]. Simple questions such as being able to identify the national speed limit caught out
a third of drivers – that equates to 13 million driving licence holders[1]. This dangerous gap in
people‟s knowledge has potentially fatal consequences and, today alone, almost £1 million
worth of insurance claims will be made every hour, over £16k per minute[6].


Every year, almost 7,300 accidents (14% of which are fatal) are caused by motorists
exceeding the speed limit and over 16,000 (18% of which fatal) are caused by people
travelling too fast for the conditions[4]. Disobeying „Give Way‟ or „Stop‟ sign markings cause
nearly 5,500 accidents[4].
Worryingly, the results of the uSwitch test show that 8 out of 10 drivers do not know the
correct shape of a „Stop‟ sign[1]. Traffic lights also seem to cause confusion for motorists too.
Over half (58%) of drivers do not know who has priority when traffic lights fail and 53% do
not know the meaning of an amber traffic light on its own[1]. Some of these may seem trivial,
but 4,047 people are killed[10] each year as a result.


 Summary of findings:                                                        The facts[10]:

      33% of drivers (13.2 million) do not know the national                       Exceeding the speed limit causes 7,258 accidents,
      speed limit.                                                                 14% of which are fatal.
      14% of motorists (5.6 million) are unsure of how fast to                     Travelling too fast for conditions causes 16,080
      drive if they see street lights, but no speed limit sign.                    accidents, 18% of which are fatal.
      8 out of 10 drivers (32.1 million) do not know the shape of                  Disobeying „Give Way‟ or „Stop‟ sign markings causes
      a stop sign - over half (55%) think they are round. They                     almost 5,500 accidents, 2% of which are fatal.
      are in fact octagonal.
      58% of motorists do not know who has priority when                           Disobeying an automatic traffic signal causes over
      traffic lights fail.                                                         2,683 accidents, 1% of which are fatal.
      4.8 million drivers (12%) say they have no idea as to what                   Over 10,354 accidents, 3% of which are fatal, are
      the shortest stopping distance is when travelling at                         caused by sudden braking.
      70mph.
      Over half of drivers (53%) do not know what an amber
      traffic light on its own means - 40% think it means prepare
      to go.


Cost to drivers
Not knowing the Highway Code, if it results in accident and injury, has a severe knock on
effect on car insurance premiums. Every individual claim adds an extra £193 (44%)[5] to
drivers car insurance premiums, wiping out two years worth of no claims discount[9]. In total,
these claims increase the cost of car insurance by £854 million[5].


For example, a driver with five years no claims discount would pay £447 for insurance
through Churchill. By making one claim, two years worth of no claims discount would be lost
and the premium would cost £669 – an increase of £220 (50%). Making two claims would
wipe out another two years no claims discount and push the premium to £1, 211[9].


Table one: Impact making a claim has on insurance premiums
                 5 years NCD      3 years NCD      Difference   Difference   1 years NCD       Difference     Difference    Difference      Difference
                 0 Claims made    1 Claim made     after        after        2 Claims made     between 1      between 1     between 2       between 2
                                                   1 claim      1 claim                        claim and 2    claim and 2   claims and 0    claims and 0
                                                   (£)          (%)                            (£)            (%)           claim           claim
                                                                                                                            (£)             (%)
Norwich Union           £695.00          £879.00      £184.00          26%         £1,262.00      £1,078.00           44%         £567.00           82%
Direct Line             £366.45          £582.75      £216.30          59%           £975.45       £759.15            67%         £609.00          166%
Churchill               £447.30          £669.90      £222.60          50%         £1,211.70       £989.10            81%         £764.40          171%
AA                      £501.06          £668.30      £167.24          33%         £1,044.20       £876.96            56%         £543.14          108%
Hastings                £330.48          £506.20      £175.72          53%           £797.35       £621.63            58%         £466.87          141%
Average                 £468.06          £661.23      £193.17          44%         £1,058.14       £864.97            61%         £590.08          134%

uSwitch.com data based on a married man aged 40 with fully comprehensive insurance



Cost to insurers
The average cost of an individual claim has reached almost £2,000[7], increasing by an
average of £89 a year since 2001[8]. One in six drivers will submit claims for a staggering
4.42 million[5] accidents this year costing insurance providers £8.4 billion[6]. As a result,
insurance premiums are soaring.
Ashton Berkhauer, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, comments: “The Transport
Secretary, Ruth Kelly, highlighted some important issues last month with the Government‟s
plans to combat fatalities among new drivers. Unfortunately, our research has shown that
lack of basic Highway Code knowledge is a wider issue for all drivers. We agree that tougher
driving tests will improve the standard of new drivers but this doesn‟t go far enough to
combat the problems with so called „experienced drivers‟.


“Although the total number of road accidents is falling by about 5%[11] each year, it‟s worrying
that many of the accidents can be directly linked to gaps in driver knowledge. It seems that
some motorists forget the rules of the road as quickly as they tear up their L-plates. In fact,
over 30 million motorists have never been tested on driving theory[12], suggesting a need for
tougher testing. This could lead to fewer accidents, safer roads and lower insurance
premiums for all, allowing consumers to save money at a time when it is hard to come by.”


                  For more information visit www.uSwitch.com or call 0800 093 06 07
                                                                -Ends-

                                 An ISDN line is available for radio interviews.


For further information please contact:

Melissa Mace, uSwitch.com, 020 7802 2909 or melissamace@uswitch.com
Tracy North, uSwitch.com, 020 7802 2925 or tracynorth@uswitch.com
Cristina Rebollo, uSwitch.com, 020 7802 2925 or cristinarebollo@uswitch.com
Lizzi Malley, Lansons Communications on 020 566 9717 or lizzim@lansons.com

Notes to editors:
1.   Research conducted by uSwitch.com, online survey of 2,526 drivers. Questions taken from 2pass.co.uk. All accident
     figures from Department of Transport, Road Casualties Great Britain 2006.
     -     There are 40,172,956 license holders in the UK (Source: DVLA)
     -     uSwitch.com research revealed that 33% of drivers do not know the national speed limit of 70mph on a dual
           carriageway, 60mph on a single carriageway.
     -     0.33% x 40,172,956 license holders = 13,257,075 (33% of licence holders)
2.   Source: Department for Transport Road Casualties of Great Britain 2006
     -     Driver/rider error or reaction is the most frequently reported category, causing 67% of all accidents.
3.   Out of 2,526 drivers that took part in the uSwitch.com research
     -     207 respondents got every question wrong (8%)
     -     852 respondents got less than half the questions correct (34%)
     -     13 respondents got every question correct (1%)
4.   Source: Department for Transport Road Casualties of Great Britain 2006, Section 4, contributory factors to road accidents
5.   According to uSwitch.com research (see table one) the average increase to a premium after one accident is £193.17
     -     4.42 million accidents result in a claim each year (Source: Mintel Motor Insurance, Financial Intelligence, May 2007)
     -     £193.17 x 4.42 million = £853,811,400 added to premiums after just one claim
6.   The average claim is £1,908 ( Source: Road Casualties of Great Britain 2006 sourcing ABI)
     -    £1908 (average claim) x 4,422,000 (number accidents resulting in claim – see caveat 5) = £8,437,176,000 claimed a
          year
     -    £8,437,176,000 divided by 365 (days in the year) = £23,115,550.68 claimed each day
     -    £23,115,550.68 divided by 24 = £963,147.95 claims per hour
     -    £963,147.95 divided by 60 = £16,052.47 claims a minute
7.   Source: Department for Transport Road Casualties of Great Britain 2006
     -     In 2001 the average claim was £1,553
     -     In 2005 the average claim was £1,908
     -     This is an increase of £355 (£1,908 - £1,553)
     -     This represents a 23% rise
8.   Source: Department for Transport Road Casualties of Great Britain 2006
     -     In 2001 the average claim was £1,553
     -     2002 - £1,590 (£37 increase)
     -     2003 - £1,671 (£81 increase)
     -     2004 - £1,734 (£63 increase)
     -     2005 - £1908 (£174 increase)
    -   These increases average at £88.75
9. See table one – uSwitch.com analysis
10. Source: Department for Transport Road Casualties of Great Britain 2006, Section 4, Contributory factors to road accidents
    -   7,258 accidents (14% fatal) caused by exceeding the speed limit. This equates to 1,016 fatalities.
    -   5,500 accidents (2% fatal) caused by disobeying „Give way‟ or „Stop‟ signs. This equates to 110 fatalities
    -   2,683 accidents (1% fatal) caused by disobeying an automatic traffic signal. This equates to 27 fatalities
    -   16,080 accidents (18% fatal) caused by travelling too fast for conditions. This equates to 2,894 fatalities.
    -   Total number of fatalities caused by above accidents = 4,047
11. Source: Department for Transport Road Casualties of Great Britain 2006, Table 1m
12. uSwitch.com analysis of DSA data.
    -   9,752,266 people have passed their driving theory since its introduction in July 1996
    -   According to the DVLA 40,172,956 people are licensed to drive a car
    -   40,172,956 – 9,752,266 = 30,420,690 have not been tested on driving theory.

About us:
uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and telephone-based comparison and switching service, helping consumers compare
prices on gas, electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal
finance products including home and car insurance.

Our aim is to help customers take advantage of the best tariffs and services on offer from every supplier.

The service is also available via fax and post. Fax 020 7233 5933 or write to Customer Services, uSwitch.com, 111
Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0SR, with your postcode and usage details.
uSwitch.com is not a supplier but acts independently, giving consumers an impartial view of what’s on offer.

				
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