Black box insurers can penalise young drivers for driving BELOW the speed limit

Some black box insurance companies no longer measure young drivers based on stated speed limits, but by the average speed of more experienced drivers.

Young drivers who have black box insurance may think they just need to not exceed the speed limit on a given road to be deemed a ‘safe’ driver. However, some telematics insurers are now using aggregated data from other drivers, rather than just relying on the stated speed limit.

This mostly applies to rural roads where the national speed limit of 60mph would apply, but it may not be safe to drive anywhere near to 60mph on particular stretches of road. In such cases insurers are able to compare a new/young driver’s speed with the average speeds of more experienced drivers to work out whether they are driving too fast.

This means that someone with black box insurance could be deemed to be driving too fast – and therefore dangerously – even if they are well below the speed limit, if they are going faster than more experienced drivers on the same stretch of road. As a result, the monthly premiums for black box insurance could increase.

country road national speed limit

Quartix released this image as an example of a rural road where the national speed limit would not be suitable

Telematics and vehicle tracking company Quartix said that, due to the high number of fatalities on rural A and B roads, insurers are moving away from judging drivers based on the speed limit alone.

According to the Department for Transport, 82% of all young driver deaths happen on B roads. That is despite motorists only using B roads for 42% of their car journeys. On average, six people die on rural roads in the UK every day – although only 7% of drivers exceed the stated speed limit on these roads.

Quartix believes this is because the national speed limit on rural roads gives young and inexperienced drivers a ‘false sense of security’, thinking they can drive at 60mph even though the road in front of them may require a more careful approach.

In order to determine what constitutes a ‘safe’ speed on certain stretches of road Quartix analyses the speed of 100,000 experienced motorists.

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Quartix say they collect more than 30 million data points for over 2 million sections of UK road every day, and add them to their SafeSpeed database of experienced motorists – which now has six years worth of data.

Their managing director, Andy Walters, said:

“Speed limits are a terrible indicator of accident risk on rural roads. These roads are where more than 6 in 10 fatal accidents occur and where more than 80 per cent of young drivers lose their lives.

“One of the reasons for this is that the 60mph national speed limit can give a false sense of security to young drivers that 60mph is safe. “Rural roads are in reality riddled with sudden, sharp bends, poor road surfaces, narrow lanes, blind bends and farm vehicles. At night, these risks become more pronounced still.

“Alerting young drivers, insurers and parents that, though legal, the speeds they are doing are deemed dangerous by other drivers given the road conditions is a terrific way to combat the accident rate and is already saving lives.

“It’s the virtual parent we’ve all always wanted to be able to place in the car next to our children as they build up enough hours’ experience behind the wheel.”

Quartix claims that the tactic of using what they call ‘contextual speed scoring’ has already had a significant effect on the amount of serious injuries or road deaths among young drivers since it was launched last year.

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