15 January 2017

Driving trends and predictions for 2017

It may not be the coolest subject but nobody could really escape politics in 2016, which saw two huge decisions made – Brexit and Donald Trump getting elected. In fact, 64% of young people aged 18 to 24 turned out to vote in the EU referendum, which was double the number many people expected. What’s in store for UK motorists during the year ahead? We take a look, from a young driver’s perspective as always.

Car Insurance

If you’re already a Carrot Insurance New Driver or Better Driver customer, you can feel smug in knowing that ‘black box’ and app-based telematics insurance policies (often called Usage-Based Insurance, or UBI for short) like these are becoming more and more common, not just for young drivers but for motorists of all ages, who fancy reducing their premiums through impressive driving.

Insurance Premium Tax is set to increase by 2% for new policies and renewals dated on or after June 1st 2017, but it’s only a teeny rise and Carrot customers understand that keeping their Driving Style scores in the green gives them a good chance of enjoying a reduced premium the next time around.

Fuel prices

Petrol and diesel prices going up just before Christmas sucked, there’s no denying that – but the experts at PetrolPrices.com, the site where you can find the cheapest garage nearby, reckon that pump prices will level out by the end of January and may even become cheaper again heading through February and March, because of complicated equations involving Donald Trump. With electric cars likely to be big news at the Geneva Motor Show in September, they predict that this will also have a positive effect on petrol and diesel prices. Fingers crossed.

Road tax

We know that few Carrot customers can afford shiny new cars, but major road tax increases will start from April 1st 2017, so we thought we’d better warn you, in case you wonder why your mum, dad or boss has become a bit grumpy around that time. Basically, the government has been losing money from motorists because of offering incentives to people who drive cars with really low CO2 emissions, so they’ve decided to price road tax for all cars from the second year onwards at £140, except for electric cars with zero emissions.

Driverless cars

The technology is already pretty much there, but it’ll take some time for different countries’ laws to catch up. Still, autonomous car trials will be happening across the country during 2017, so you could well end up spotting them while you’re out and about. Jaguar Land Rover will be one of the first car firms to test its driverless vehicles, mainly in the Midlands to start with, Volvo is expected to join the party towards the end of 2017 with its chunky XC90 4x4s piloting around London with ordinary families in them, and everyday brands like Ford are also expected to start testing on UK roads this year. More and more ‘normal’ cars are also being fitted with semi-autonomous features such as braking, motorway lane-changing and parking, so don’t be alarmed if you see someone in the driver’s seat without any hands on the wheel – chances are their car is switched to ‘semi-autopilot’ mode.

Driving laws

Most of you will already know that it’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, even when parked in stationery traffic, but 2017 is set to see on-the-spot police fines doubled to £200 and licence penalty points also doubling to six points, meaning that newly-qualified drivers who get caught within the first two years of driving could immediately lose their licence and be forced to take their driving test again.

Driving tests

If you’ve got a younger sibling or friend who’s taking their practical driving test in 2017, they’ll be put through some rather different tasks, from being asked to follow directions using a sat nav and reversing out of a parking space, to the independent driving part of the test being doubled to 20 minutes and the learner being quizzed on how to demist the windscreen and use other buttons. It’s likely that learners will soon be allowed on motorways, too.

Whether you’re still learning to drive or you’ve been driving for years, we’d love to hear your thoughts on these motoring trends and predictions for 2017, so come find us on Twitter or Facebook!

Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.