Essay : the pressures facing young drivers

Morris Marina in 1.3-litre form is cheap to insure and a doddle to work on. Still cheap, but getting rare thanks to piano-dropping pranks on Top Gear!
The ultimate cheap to insure and run starter classic: Morris Marina in 1.3-litre form is cheap to insure and a doddle to work on. Still cheap, but getting rare thanks to piano-dropping pranks on Top Gear!

As a young driver, you do have a lot to think about. And it is quite easy to get caught up in the fun aspects of having a licence for the first time. If you are a first time driver, you are probably just excited about how much more freedom and flexibility the ability to drive brings you – and what kind of car you’re going to choose: classic, modern, sporting or practical. However, there are also other important things to consider that will affect your safety and comfort on the road.

Before we look at the best cars to buy, it’s worth considering the day-to-day legalities, such as tax, insurance, MoT. These factors, such as how to go about choosing your car insurance, and what sort of car to buy or save for, can help to shape your driving experience for many years to come.

With regards to obtaining the right car insurance, the first and most logical step is probably simply to ask your parents; chances are they have had their own experiences, and will likely be able to help you with the details and fine points the first time around. However, you will also want to visit the website of an insurance provider such as Aviva or Allstate. And although it’s tempting to do so, don’t always shop primarily on price – sometimes premiums can be cheap for a reason. Also spend lots of time on the websites, playing with the options – we found at least one company that offers lower premiums for those who declare on-street parking (as opposed to driveway) due to ‘the risk not being associated with a property’.

These are examples of companies that can provide you with tailored insurance coverage for everything from a crack in your windscreen to a passenger injury in an accident. It is not pleasant to think about, particularly when you are just starting out as a driver, but accidents do happen, and with adequate insurance, you can at least decrease the expenses of an accident. Just don’t skimp. And if that means buying a car with less power than you’d like… just consider that you’ll be in a much better position with a couple of years’ no-claims bonus under your belt.

As far as which cars you should be looking into driving as a new driver, safety is a primary concern, of course. It may be tempting to go for something that handles well, or something fast, or even something that can fit all of your friends in it; however, you will want to make sure that you look into any car’s safety record. In addition, it would be a good idea to consider purchasing a used car, and/or a car that gets good fuel consumption, so as to save money.

After all, if you cut costs while you are young, you may be able to save up for a nicer car later on in life.

These are just a few safety and cost-related considerations for young drivers to keep in mind. Again, it is quite easy when you first receive your licence to be very excited, and to overlook the necessities. However, with a the right insurance and a safe car that suits your needs and budget, you will be able to enjoy your new freedom and flexibility soon enough…

AROnline‘s ten favourite insurable cars for the under-21s


Keith Adams


  1. The 2CV is a great starter car (well it was for me several decades ago!) but, being made from biscuit tins, it really doesn’t meet the safety criterion!

  2. A Marina a Doddle to work on. Good job really, because you’ll be working on it a lot!
    I do wish topgear would stop dropping piano’s on them though, a lot of work goes into making a piano and it seems a waste.

    Seriously though, i think the rarity is more to do with them rusting away. A mini will rust away just as quickly. But the marina just isn’t as desirable, i know of a marina that’s been in someones garden full of rubbish for the past 10 years at least. If it had been a mini, or a Morris 1000 or a Beetle or a 2CV someone would have knocked on the door and bought it to restore by now.
    Surely the Moggy has to be another for the list? Plentiful parts, easy to work on (obviously they rust) and a lot cheaper to buy than Mini’s.

  3. I dunno about the super-cinq being a good starter buy, the (offset) radiator is about an inch behind the bumper.. and everyone knows you allways stuff your first car!

  4. Some interesting choices.

    I had a 94 Clio Campus 1.2 4 speed, which was a modern equivalent of a supercinq. Unfortunately the rear attracted the front of a BMW and was rendered a write off.

    A friend had a Cinquecento, with the cloth roof that unfortunately didn’t open and just flapped about at motorway speed and froze him in the winter. It was a great wee car though, a real go-kart that in Italian style was revved to make progress.

    I had wondered why a classmate at university had a Volvo 440, didn’t realise insurance was so cheap! Thought it was a safe option.

    Couple of friends had Rover 100s, the last of the Metros. Again, go-kart handling, the 1.4 GTA was surprisingly quick when I had a blast in it, but rusting rear arches and the HG on the 1.4.

    MK2 Escort would be the ultimate first car. Cool, rare, RWD, spacious. Unfortunately the good ones now go for silly money and the cheap ones are snapped up by rally drivers.

  5. An allegro, always thought was kinda cool looking in a retro kinda way. Also My mum lernt to drive in one …. with its Square steering wheel! ah Volvo 440 though might be more practical

  6. Trouble is I don’t think any new young driver can insure anything for sensible money these days. A few may know I bought my nephew a 1.3 Polo as the insurance came in amongst the lowest at £1300 for him on a provisional licence. This however doubled to just over £3000 at the time he passes the test with no NCB! How the hell do these youngsters manage it? Is it any wonder why more and more people are running the risk of driving with no insurance or fronting? A few of the starter classics came in a little cheaper, but even for me to put him on as a named driver on say a Morris 1300 would see my insurance jump from £90 to £900! Bloody ridiculous!

  7. A freind recently sold her (awful but she loved it) Perodua Nippa. A young lad came to view, said he’d love to buy it but the insurance qote was £2000!! I think they have a 750cc enginem ludicrous. My first car was a Golf Mk1 1.3CL with GTi bits glued on, cost £700 to insure but that is going back a few years. 2nd car Astra Mk1 1.6 (and lord how I miss it!) Estate, insurance £300 at 21 years young.

    You can’t even tell the kids it’ll get cheaper as they get older – I’m 31 now and two years ago my Cavalier cost £180 to insure fully comp, this years bill? £320 third part fire theft…

    • Similar when getting ballpark quotes for things like 1.1 Metros. Then again, I lived in an area in the late 90s that was mostly on fire.

      Most of my friends in upper 6th who were driving were using the ‘named driver’ loophole. One in particular was paranoid as their vehicle wasn’t technically insured for commuting. Probably all highly fraudulent, but then the sheer cost pushed them to it, and it was better than no insurance at all.

      Moved away to a university town where the height of car crime was overstaying your parking voucher. Cheap insurance (£500) for a 1.2 Clio.

      These days they have black boxes where the NSA- I mean, car insurance companies, can observe your driving and adjust quotes appropriately.

  8. I have no sympathy whatsoever for anyone who defends young drivers and their insurance premiums. The premiums reflect the statistical liability of young drivers having accidents and claims. Young drivers in the 17 to 25 age group have the worst accident record of all driver even drivers in their 70s and 80s fare better. From experience at work , 50% of the 17-18 year old write off their car in the first year, in one case, a colleague of mine , his daughter wrote off her car within hours of passing her test, her first solo drive she misjudged a bend and off the road into a ditch.

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