1 in 3 young drivers need help to meet costs of running a car

Nearly half of 18-24-year-old drivers say the pandemic has made it harder financially to stay on the road.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
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Posted 25 JUNE 2020

A third of young drivers have taken financial help to keep their car running in recent months – while a fifth have been forced to stop driving altogether.  

The financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit 18-24 year-old drivers particularly hard, with almost half (47%) admitting they’ve found it harder to afford keeping a car.

Comparethemarket.com’s latest Young Drivers report suggests average first-year running costs of £2,370 are proving out of reach for many, with 18-24-year-olds being urged to do all they can to reduce them. 

‘A real challenge’

As many as one in five young drivers have stopped using their car, according to the research, which suggests a third (33%) have only been able to stay on the road thanks to financial support from family or friends.

Over half (£1,264) of the average annual running cost for a new driver aged under 24 is attributed to insurance – a cost many have found too high to handle.

Dan Hutson, Head of Motor at comparethemarklet.com believes an inability to drive could represent a “real challenge” for scores of post-lockdown commuters.

“Driving is something that many of us will take for granted, particularly in areas across the country where commuting to work has to be done by car.

“The pandemic is seeing young people more financially squeezed than ever and this presents a real challenge for those that need a car to secure and hold a job. This is particularly important after the lockdown as car usage will likely increase significantly as people avoid public transport.”

Wider implications

Comparethemarket.com research uncovers a staggering 37% of 18-24 year-olds who expect to lose their job or take a pay cut due to the virus – a higher proportion than in any other age group.

And the significance of being unable to afford driving is not lost on young people, with 54% believing it will negatively affect their ability to get a job, and 60% saying it will hinder them getting to work.

Almost two-thirds (63%) are concerned they won’t be easily able to see family or friends if they can’t afford to run their cars.

Learners too have struggled in the wake of the pandemic, with almost all (90%) of those actively trying to pass their test pre-lockdown having to cancel lessons or tests. Over half (54%) say not being able to take their test will affect their job prospects.

Keeping car costs to a minimum

As Dan Hutson explains, affording the ongoing running costs of a car has always been a particular challenge for young drivers. “However, pay cuts, job losses and furloughing will inevitably make it near impossible for many young people to keep up with the costs,” he adds.

“If commuting by car will become the new normal for many, it is essential that young people take steps to minimise their bills to avoid paying over the odds.”

Young drivers are reminded to speak to their insurance provider if their current or expected mileage has reduced due to the pandemic, to see if a reduction in premium is possible.

If not, switching car insurance provider remains an effective way of saving money – with a £224 difference currently standing between the average and cheapest premium for young drivers. Switching around three weeks before renewal date is typically the best way to maximise the saving.

Young drivers should also consider telematics-based policies, whereby safe driving is rewarded through cheaper costs, while adding a more experienced driver to your policy can also bring down the overall price. Always beware of ‘fronting’ however – if you wrongly name another person as ‘main driver’ of your car, you could face charges.

Finally, young drivers are urged to keep their car as secure as possible to reduce the risk of theft and damage, and to consider more fuel-efficient cars, which also lowers road tax costs.

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