Age limits remain a problem for car and van hire customers: anyone under 25 is likely to pay a surcharge, while anyone aged 20 or under is unlikely to be able to hire a car — or van — at all.
The problem means, for example, that students are not able to hire a small van to return themselves to university with their belongings (on a one-way hire) but instead must enlist their parents’ help, in most cases.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has been looking into this issue in more depth and believes that the traditional justification given for this discrimination — that young drivers are too high risk — has been overused and is not backed up by statistics.
The organisation points out that while teenagers are a documented high-risk group when it comes to accidents, the risk drops considerably after six months of driving experience and even more so for drivers in their early 20s.
And according to existing government data*, reported killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in accidents involving young car drivers have decreased at steady rate since 2000. In 2011, compared with the 2005-09 average, the numbers of KSI casualties in young car driver related accidents in 2011 was 35 per cent lower, and the number of fatalities was 46 per cent lower.
Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research, points out that car clubs are opening their doors to younger drivers, without problems, and that a sensible, measured approach could actually help drive new business for the hire firms:
“We are not suggesting that inexperienced or teenage drivers should be let loose with a powerful hire car. But younger 20-somethings shouldn’t be penalised to such a degree with expensive premium charges. Safe young drivers could be a potentially fruitful market as the economy picks up. The rise in the popularity of City Car Clubs which do allow 19 year olds to drive shows that demand is out there.”
“Car hire companies should be commissioning research and looking at their real world claims history to see if the age limit can be reduced. It’s a small part of the overall traffic mix on our roads but reviewing the age limit would remove what appears to be a fundamental unfairness for safe young people in their early twenties.”
You can find more information on age limits for van hire here, although do be aware that these conditions sometimes change and that the young driver surcharge can sometimes double the daily rate for a small van!