Young man behing the steering wheel of a car.

The most common traffic offences and driving mistakes young drivers make

Top 10 traffic offences made by young drivers

For many of us, driving is second nature, especially when we've been doing it for a while. And although the most experienced drivers can still make a mistake, it's typically more common for younger drivers who are new to the road.

So based on the data for the last two years, here are the ten most common driving offences that young people have committed.

Table of top ten traffic offences by young brits.

1Exceeding the statutory speed limit

Unsurprisingly, speeding hits the top spot. Over two years, a total of 128,677 drivers between 17-25 were found guilty of speeding, making it the most common driving offence.

In fact, nearly 4 in 10 drivers are guilty of speeding on public roads, making it the most common traffic offence in the UK.

2Using a vehicle uninsured

Borrowing someone else’s car without insurance is an offence that 56,789 young drivers committed over the two years. If you’re thinking of using someone’s car for a quick trip, these uninsured drivers' facts might help you understand your insurance policy so you’re fully covered to drive.

Driving an uninsured vehicle is a big issue with younger drivers – and something easily solved with choosing the right young drivers insurance provider.

3Exceeding the speed limit on a motorway

33,055 (9.99%) of young people were charged with this. When you combine motorway speeding with speeding on a statutory road, this type of offence takes up a whopping 48.86% of all traffic offences committed by young people in the UK.

4Driving without a licence

A total of 30,658 (9.26%) young drivers were caught without a licence. So to help make sure you successfully get your licence, our driving theory and practical test guides are the perfect place to start.

5Driving or attempting to drive above the alcohol limit

Between 2020 and 2021, 12,068 (3.65%) young drivers were guilty of this. Even the day after a big night out can still mean you're over the limit. Read our drink and drive guide about the current law.

6Failure to give information of the driver identity

As many as 11,631 (3.51%) young drivers were unable to provide their details when committing an offence.

7Driving or attempting to drive above the specified drug level

Like drink driving, driving under the influence of drugs is also a crime – and it's one committed by 10,529 young drivers in the past two years. It's a serious offence and can cost up to 11 penalty points on your licence.

8Driving without due care and attention

Over the two-year period, careless driving was the eighth most common traffic offence committed by 16–25-year-olds with 6,426 drivers (1.94% of all offences) driving carelessly on UK roads. If something does happen, here's our guide of what you should do in the unfortunate event of a car accident.

9Driving while disqualified by order of court

Despite being banned from driving, 5,228 young drivers continued to drive after being disqualified between 2020 and 2021. Driving while disqualified accounted for 1.58% of all traffic offences committed by younger drivers.

10Using a vehicle with defective tyre(s)

If your tyres don't meet the legal requirements, for example having the minimum tread depth or they're flat, then make sure to get them fixed before driving. A total of 4,420 young drivers were caught out for this (1.34% of all traffic offences). Tyres are one of those easy fixes that you can avoid. By having your car serviced regularly and getting its MOT, you can practically eliminate the risk. If you do have a tyre problem, make sure you know how to fix a flat tyre and store your breakdown contact numbers in your phone.

Most common traffic offences for drivers aged 16-25

16-year-olds

The top offence for this age group is driving without a licence, with more than 1 in 3 of committed offences (36.02%) closely followed by driving a vehicle without insurance (35.93%).

17-year-olds

While fewer drivers of this age group drive without insurance (29.43%) than 16-year-olds, this is still the top offence for this age. For 17-year-old drivers, exceeding the speed limit is the third most common traffic offence with 14.59% of all committed traffic offences in this category.

18-year-olds

Exceeding the speed limit on a public road is the main traffic offence committed by 24.73% of 18-year-olds. This figure is around 10% higher than 17-year-olds, suggesting young drivers become bolder with experience.

Nearly 1 in 4 (24.03%) 18-year-old drivers are also uninsured drivers, with traffic offences that come under the category of driving an uninsured vehicle without third-party risks.

19-year-olds

Of all the traffic offences for 19-year-olds, the most common (at 33.65%) is going over the speed limit – with speeding taking up a total of 41.79% of all traffic offences (including speeding on a motorway).

19-year-olds are the only other category to share driving under the influence of drugs with 18-year-olds – with over 4% of offences.

20-year-olds

Not only do 20-year-olds go above the speed limit on public roads (38.25% of traffic offences), but they do so on the motorway too (9.70%). This means nearly half of traffic offences for this age group in total were for speeding.

21-year-olds

More than 50% of traffic offences for 21-year-olds exceed the speed limit on public roads and motorways. Another offence this group has in common with 20-year-olds, is driving over the alcohol limit.

22-year-olds

7.31% of traffic offences for 22-year-olds are drivers who have been caught driving without a licence. 22-year-olds also struggle to keep to the speed limits. This makes up 52.77% of all traffic offences; either on a public road (41.64%) or on the motorway (11.13%).

23 to 25-year-olds

Over 50% of traffic offences for ages between 23 and 25 are for driving over the speed limit on roads and the motorway. Other offences by this age group include driving without insurance, driving without a licence and failing to provide driver details.

Common reasons for failing a driving test

Driving tests can be nerve-racking and people often make mistakes when they're being observed. You can read our guide on practical driving test tips to help prepare for your test.

Table of top ten reasons for failing the driving test.

To make sure you don't get caught out, here are the ten most common reasons why people fail their driving test in the UK, according to Gov.uk:

1Not making effective observations at junctions

The most common error is not checking blind spots properly. Drivers must look before turning into a junction for oncoming vehicles, or they may get a serious or dangerous fault in the exam and fail immediately.

2Not using mirrors correctly

Like making observations at junctions, using mirrors correctly is also to make you aware of other drivers. It should be done before setting off, altering speed, and changing direction. In fact, you should check your mirrors regularly to make sure you’re aware of your surroundings.

3Not having proper control of the steering

Your hands should stay at the ’10 and 2’ position on the wheel to maintain control over the vehicle – not doing this during your test is the third most common failure.

4Incorrect positioning when turning right at junctions

When turning right at junctions, the correct positioning in the road lets other drivers know your intention. Failure to do so could be a serious or dangerous fault in your driving test.

5Not moving off safely

Making the correct preparations and observations before moving off lets you see if it's safe to go and helps to prevent any accidents.

6Not responding appropriately to traffic lights

Drivers must be prepared to stop at a red light and drive as soon as it goes green again.

7Poor positioning on the road during normal driving

Your vehicle must be in the centre of the road and you must stay in one lane

8Not responding to traffic signs

Signs are there to tell the driver what to do, so not paying attention to them can be dangerous. For more help with driving theory, read our useful tips

9Not having control of the vehicle when moving off

This failure includes stalling and rolling back, which can indicate poor clutch control or using the wrong gears. Pay extra attention when moving off from behind a parked car or on a hill to prevent an accident.

10Not keeping control of the vehicle during reverse parking

To add to an already tricky manoeuvre, you must make sure you don’t make too many attempts, end up on the pavement, lose control of the car or end up outside the bay – as this will result in failing your test.

Methodology

We submitted a Freedom of Information request with the DVLA to obtain a list of all driving offences committed in the UK examining drivers aged 16 - 25, between the dates 01/01/2020 and 31/12/2021.

We sourced the offence details and top reasons for failing a driving test via Gov.uk.

You can access the data here