Young drivers face a lot of pressure to be the safest on the road. While experience may have a part to play in why they are more likely to be involved with road traffic collisions than their older counterparts, studies suggest that young drivers seem to face growing distraction behind the wheel which can cause fatality or serious injury.
Key Facts about young drivers and road collisions
Injuries from road traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among young people between 15 and 29 years of age according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
23% of drivers aged 18 to 24 will have a crash in the first two years of them acquiring their licence; according to figures from road safety charity Brake.
Brake also estimates that young drivers aged 16 to 19 are a third more likely to die in a road collision than drivers aged between 40 and 49.
Teenage drivers are 3 times more likely than drivers over 20 to be in a fatal crash.
Young male drivers
Younger drivers, especially men, tend to be overconfident and are more likely to drive in risky ways such as too fast, too close to the vehicle in front and by overtaking dangerously. 75% of young fatalities are caused by men, which is three times more likely than women. Young male drivers also make up 25% of drink drivers and according to Brake, they account for 74% of road traffic deaths, 70% of serious injuries and 59% of slight injuries on UK roads.
Young men are more likely to hold a range of attitudes that might be associated with dangerous or risk-taking behaviours and are more likely to think the speed limit is ‘too slow’. Attitudinal and behavioural studies show that part of the reason for this difference is that men tend to have a different mind-set when it comes to risk, and display more aggressive and dangerous driving behaviours.
The worst places to drive in Britain
Are drivers from one part of Britain more cautious than others? Are drivers from another more reckless or more likely to be involved in a collision? Recent surveys threw up lots of surprises…
Aviva found that Scotland has the safest drivers enabling it to be the safest place to drive in the UK. The insurer created a ratio of crashes per population for each region with Greater London in first place with 1 in 343 residents being involved in a collision. The South East is second with 1 in 389; East Midlands had 1 in 422; and North West at the bottom of the ladder with 1 in 538.
The Aviva survey showed that Londoners are the angriest drivers with 74% admitting to losing their cool behind the wheel. Unsurprisingly those angry Londoners are most likely to break the law while driving as 28% of them admitting having done so.
Whilst Greater London is seen to be the worst region for bad drivers, 55% of fatal accidents happened on rural roads (992 in 2017) compared to urban roads (607 in the same year). According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the number of serious and slight injury collisions is higher in urban areas: in 2017 there were 85,855 on urban roads and 37,651 on rural roads. These figures show that while the number of collisions is higher in urban areas, there is a greater chance of dying on rural roads.
Sadly, five people die every day in the UK due to road traffic collisions. However, according to a WHO report, the UK has the third safest roads in the world with 2.9 vehicle deaths per 100,000 people.
Young drivers and young pedestrian deaths
There is a significant decrease in young fatalities on the roads between 2017 and 2018 as there were 279 in 2017 whereas there were 146 in 2018. We seem to see more collisions between young drivers but there has been a 13% decrease in younger casualties from 2012. Although there is a downward trend in fatalities for 17-24 aged drivers, young people make up only 7% of license holders but represent over 20% of driver fatalities or serious injury in car crashes according to Brake, even though they drive far fewer miles (approximately 3,000) than adult drivers (6,000).
As a pedestrian, younger fatalities rose from 35 in 2017 to 47 in 2018. This is more than young drivers which dropped to 99 in 2018.
Why are young drivers more likely to crash?
According to autoguide.com, in terms of male and female peer pressure driving habits, males that drove with passengers were about six times more likely to impress their friends by pulling illegal driving stunts and were twice as likely to drive aggressively just before a crash.
The main causes for teenage driver collisions are:
- Distractions (60% of crashes)
- Peer pressure from other drivers or passengers
- Texting or using a mobile phone
- Driver inexperience
- Not wearing seatbelts
What can adult drivers and parents do to prevent young driver collisions?
In the past five years, more than 1,000 people have died each year during the “100 deadliest days of summer” due to car collisions caused by teens who spend more time behind the wheel in the summer. The director of AA has teamed up with Womansday.com to urge parents to talk to their teens about the risks of distracted driving.
Some actions parents can take to encourage safe driving include:
- Having conversations early and often about the dangers of distraction
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets specific rules
- Teach by example: avoid personally engaging in distractions when driving
As a whole, to help young people be safer on our roads, the road safety charity Brake states “we need better driver training and investment in monitoring technology for young drivers.”
It is also worth remembering that even though young drivers are seen to be dangerous on the roads, the older generation (60 or older) are increasingly causing more fatalities (an increase of 5% from 559 in 2017 to 586 in 2018) and injuries (increased by 9% from 5440 to 5993) each year.
To find out more about young drivers visit: http://www.brake.org.uk/news/15-facts-a-resources/facts/488-young-drivers-the-hard-facts.
This blog was written by Juliette McLoughlin who is partaking in work experience with Birchall Blackburn Law. Juliette is currently in year 13 at Cardinal Newman studying Criminology, Sociology and English Language and Literature and hopes to work in HR or project management in the future.