How young drivers can effectively protect themselves

Young woman sitting at the wheel of a car

How young drivers can effectively protect themselves

Licensed to drive at last! Now the great freedom beckons and maybe soon you'll even own your first car. Here you can find all the important information about the topic of "Safety for young drivers" – so that you are covered should you encounter any problems.
Did you know that young drivers have a considerably higher risk of sustaining serious or even life-threatening injuries as the result of a traffic accident? According to the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention cap, the risk for drivers aged 18 to 24 is 2.5 times as high as for drivers aged 25 to 64. The causes: lack of experience, riskier behavior and the influence of peers. However, the number of severe bodily injuries among young drivers has decreased by around 70% between 2009 and 2019 according to cap. In addition to an increase in preventative measures and tougher rules for young drivers, technical improvements in driving assistant systems are likely a contributing factor here.

Typical causes of an accident for young drivers

There is a lot you can do as a driver to improve the safety of yourself and others on the road. This is shown by some exciting facts from cap: 

  • Don't drive faster than your guardian angel can fly
    Excessive speed is the second most frequent cause of accidents among young drivers, right after skidding and single-vehicle accidents. Speed is doubly fatal: it increases both the severity of potential accidents and the chance of one occurring in the first place. "Too fast" doesn't just apply to those who go above the speed limit. Too fast also means those on the road who are driving faster than road conditions, the weather and traffic allow. By the way: in the case of skidding and single-vehicle accidents, speed is also a key factor.
  • Drinking and driving should never go together
    Driving with alcohol in your system is strictly forbidden for new drivers – since 2014 this rule applies throughout the three-year probationary period. Nevertheless, alcohol is the fourth most frequent cause of accidents among young drivers: even in small quantities, alcohol impairs your driving skills. Your reactions are slower, your concentration and vision are worse and you are more tired. In addition, alcohol increases your risk tolerance. All these factors are deadly behind the wheel.
  • Tired on the road – this can quickly become dangerous
    Tiredness contributes to around one in ten traffic accidents. That's because those who are driving while tired measure their speed poorly, have bad concentration and have reaction times similar to those under the influence of alcohol. For this reason, driving while over tired is forbidden by law. Of particular concern are "microsleeps": nodding off for a second or two behind the wheel – enough time for the driver to completely lose control of their vehicle. According to cap, the only truly effective measure against tiredness is a 15-minute power nap. Drinking two cups of coffee directly before the nap will give you additional energy.

Third party liability is mandatory

Simply by consistently avoiding the biggest pitfalls of speed, alcohol and tiredness, you can significantly reduce your personal risk of accident. Nevertheless, you still need good insurance coverage. In Switzerland, without liability insurance, you cannot even register your vehicle. This cover pays out in the event that you injure others or damage property with your car. 

Partial casco and comprehensive cover for more protection

Single vehicle accidental damage insurance covers unexpected damage or loss, which you can do nothing to prevent, for example, if your car is full of dents following a hailstorm, is stolen or if a passing vehicle whips up a small stone which then damages your windshield. Collision accidental damage, also known as comprehensive cover, pays out for self-inflicted collision damage to your own car. In this case, whether you collided with another car, a garden fence, a column in the parking lot or with your own garage door is not important.

Which additional cover could I benefit from?

Generally, comprehensive insurance is beneficial for newer cars, while single vehicle accidental damage insurance offers good protection that everyone needs. Lastly, you need to consider whether you want to give your car comprehensive cover, in order to insure yourself against the financial consequences of a collision – above all, if your vehicle is totaled in the accident. Statutory liability insurance must always be included. 

Here you can find useful tips about purchasing used cars.

Tip: also cover yourself against gross negligence

It is particularly important for young drivers to take out gross negligence cover. This way, in the event of a claim resulting from gross negligence, you don't have to worry about your insurance benefits being withdrawn or curtailed. With this cover, your insurance provider waives its right to hold you, or another insured person responsible for the accident, liable for the damage. This applies, for example, if you aren't paying attention and accidentally cut someone off or accidentally run a red light. However, gross negligence cover does not give you a free pass to drive dangerously or engage in illegal behavior: if you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are in some other way unfit to drive, driving too quickly, recklessly overtake another driver or take part in an illegal street race then you are not covered.

And in the event of a crash?

If there has been a crash: stop and turn on your hazard lights. Secure the sight of the accident with a warning triangle and administer first aid, if necessary. Inform the police by dialing 117.

In addition: take a deep breath – the world hasn't come to an end, it's probably just a fender bender and there is always a solution for that. Stay calm and objective, even if the other party involved in the crash suddenly becomes angry, because a conflict is not going to help you in this situation.

Document the accident and contact your insurer

Photograph all property damage to the vehicles involved. There should always be a European accident report form in your glove compartment, which those involved in the accident should fill out together. Your insurer will provide you with this document. Tip from the TCS: fill out your details in advance, this will save you time and stress during an accident. Aside from this, you must also report any damages to your insurer. At Zurich, this is possible on 0800 80 80 80 or online at By the way: we at Zurich are happy to organize the repair of your car via our Zurich Help Point network and will advise you about the best way of getting your car repaired. While your car is being repaired, we will make sure you can stay mobile, e.g., by providing a complimentary replacement vehicle or a voucher for use on public transport.

Here you can read about what Zurich Help Point has to offer you.

Premium-saving tips for young drivers

Zurich offers various benefits to young drivers under 25: 

  • After 3 years with no claims, you will get 10% of your premium back. 
  • Your premiums will reduce year on year up until your 25th birthday.
  • You will receive a 15% discount, if your parents already hold at least 2 policies with Zurich.
  • You will likewise receive a combination discount, if you take out Contents or Life Insurance with Zurich. 

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