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Equality plans come at too high a price, says BVRLA

14 October 2009

The government risks putting more lives in danger on Britain’s roads by giving young, inexperienced drivers free rein to hire sports cars, vans and commercial vehicles, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association. The BVRLA is calling for the sector to be given an exemption from elements of the government’s proposed Equality Bill, which will ban businesses from treating customers differently according to their age.

Rental companies need the freedom to manage risk posed by young drivers, says the BVRLA, which is also warning that the proposal could send rental rates and firms’ operating costs soaring. BVRLA chief executive John Lewis, who is chairman of the Driving for Better Business campaign’s steering group, said: “The government wants to create a fairer society, but at what cost?

“One in every three road accidents in the UK involves young drivers, and the government needs to recognise the consequences of forcing rental firms to rent any vehicle to all drivers over the age of 18.”

The bill is expected to become law before next year’s general election and would be implemented in 2012. In its current form the BVRLA estimates the bill could cost the vehicle rental industry over £71 million a year in extra insurance and repair costs.

Based on data supplied by its members, the BVRLA believes the rental and leasing industry has a strong enough case to earn an exemption from certain aspects of the bill. At the very least, members should be allowed to recover costs from high-risk age groups or restrict the types of vehicle they are able to hire, says the organisation.

Data obtained from BVRLA members and the Association of British Insurers shows that:

  • Vehicles rented to customers under the age of 25 are 67% more likely to be damaged or involved in an accident
  • The cost of repairing a rental vehicles is, on average, 55% higher when the hirer is under 25
  • One-in-three road accidents involves young drivers