AS DRIVERS in Scotland face the steepest car insurance cost rises in the UK, young drivers could see their huge premiums reduced – but only if the Government goes ahead with new probationary licences.

The average UK car policy is set to reach a new high this year of £900, a 17 per cent rise on the £767 being charged two years ago.

But drivers with a Borders postcode will pay an extra 17 per cent this year alone, according to price-comparison site Confused’s latest price index.

Their average rise of £92 tops the UK league table, while drivers in north-east Scotland and the Highlands face rises of 13 and 10 per cent respectively in 2018.

In real terms, Scotland is still the cheapest place to insure a car, according to the AA, with an average cost of £487 compared with £833 in London, £885 in Northern Ireland and £916 in North-West England.

But young drivers everywhere will be hit hard by continuing hikes in the cost of being mobile and independent.

Motorists aged between 18 and 23 have seen their premiums go up by more £100 since last year, with 20-year-olds paying £173 more than people of the same age last year.

The Association of British Insurers suggests that 18 to 21 year olds already spend 10 per cent of their income on car insurance premiums.

It now costs young drivers almost 60 per cent of their income or almost £6,000 to get their wheels on the road, according to another report this month, with even a best-buy insurance policy for an 18-year-old weighing in at £2,254, the equivalent of £187 a month. Almost a quarter of parents help towards paying car insurance for their children.

Matt Oliver at comparison site Gocopare, which produced the report, said: “ “While many people feel that young drivers are treated unfairly when it comes to insurance premiums, unfortunately, statistics show that newly qualified drivers are more likely to have an accident.

"These accidents also tend to be more serious in nature, resulting in more expensive claims - hence the higher premiums.”

Drivers under 24 make up only seven per cent of licence holders but are involved in more than a quarter of crashes leading to deaths or serious injuries.

One in four young drivers is involved in an accident within the first two years of starting to drive and there are 400 deaths or serious injuries on British roads involving young drivers each year.

Under a proposed graduated licence system, new drivers would serve a one or two year probationary period, with restrictions including a ban on driving after 9pm, a lower drink-drive limit, and a second driving test.

In the past MPs have voiced concerns that a harsher regime would damage young people’s employment prospects, but Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs earlier this month the accident record was unacceptable and that the Government would look at the reforms.

Already novice motorists face a driving ban for six penalty points on their licence rather than the normal 12.

A graduated licence could be the key to cheaper insurance for young drivers. “These limitations on their licences should reduce their insurance risk profiles, which could ultimately see the cost of their insurance reduce significantly,” commented Simon McCulloch at Compare The Market.

One of the best ways of cutting the cost is to opt for a telematics or black-box policy, where an on-board computer or a smartphone app monitors how you drive and the insurer rewards good scores with lower premiums.

However, this can make it hard to shop around. James Daley, founder of Fairer Finance, said: “If you drive well for insurer X during the first year, you should be able to pick up your scorecard and take it to insurer Y for a quote in year two.”

As there is no common standard for black boxes that cannot happen, meaning drivers have to stick with the same insurer.

Other ways to keep the cost of insurance down include buying a car with a small engine in a low insurance group or opting for a higher excess.

Drivers could also removing courtesy car, legal assistance, breakdown cover and key cover from any quotes, while adding a parent to a young driver’s policy as a second driver can also keep costs down.