Protecting young drivers

We have set an ambitious long term aim of cutting deaths of young drivers in their first 1000 miles of driving to zero. We will, of course, need to work with many other stakeholders to achieve this goal.

17-19 year olds are involved in 9% of all fatal and serious crashes, despite representing just 1.5% of all drivers. . It's less well known that, young drivers initially get more dangerous in their first 1,000 miles of driving after passing their test, before then improving. This is because young drivers are often over-confident straight after passing their test. In addition they are less experienced at spotting dangers or hazards on the road and often take more risks.

Our own claims experience confirms this, as we see that around 1 in 5 young drivers crash in the first year.

To help improve young people's driving behaviour, we identified three things that needed to be true if we wanted to help. The first was that we needed to be in the car with them, the next that we needed to provide feedback for improvement and, finally, we needed to make the learning experience rewarding, fun and competitive.

We designed a free App, Shotgun, which tracks a person's driving. Once drivers have downloaded Shotgun to their phones, we monitor their driving for 1,000 miles, with each individual journey receiving tailored feedback. For example: "That was a bumpy ride! Accelerate gradually and be less heavy on the pedals. Let's turn this around."

To keep drivers engaged, we have put in place attractive rewards and created a leader board to allow people to see how their driving measures up against other drivers on the App. These leader boards can be personalised to allow people to compete with their friends.

There are six levels of reward. Drivers begin on level one, which enables them to get rewards like a free Amazon voucher. As their driving improves, taking on board their feedback they can progress through all levels and choose rewards from other leading brands. Level six rewards are higher value and experience based, such as a free helicopter ride. The rewards are meaningful and help drive engagement with the App.

Marketing this product was not easy: we needed to grab the attention of young drivers who typically aren't that engaged with the subject of road safety. To do this, we concentrated our efforts on social media, generating awareness with some edgy viral content. This has worked extremely well, helping us to raise awareness of our App with over a million 17 to 25 year olds and we have so far achieved over 20,000 downloads. We also made sure that a wider audience could find out about how Direct Line is taking a broader role in society and tackling meaningful issues. There was a wealth of PR generated media coverage that spread the word to parents of young drivers and other opinion formers.

We are really proud to say that the App is already helping to make a real difference by improving road safety for young drivers. Our analysis of drivers using the App so far shows that for key areas such as speeding and braking these have both seen a great improvement. Early indications are that around 1 in 3 drivers have improved their smoothness, which means less hard braking or tailgating is happening, and 1 in 4 have improved their safe driving skills by reducing their speed. We know that these metrics have a high degree of correlation and overall safety and accident statistics and so can be confident that Shotgun has already saved people from death or serious injury.

In 2018, we are aiming to increase the number of downloads and spread the safer driving message even more widely. Direct Line started a revolution in insurance back in 1985 and with our Shotgun App, we want to ignite a revolution in road safety for young drivers.