The AA Charitable Trust is calling for under 17s to receive driver training in the wake of a new report which shows that new drivers are most at risk on the roads in the first six months after passing the driving test.
The report, ‘Young Drivers at Risk’ (launched 20 July), comprises a survey of 14,229 motorists on the AA/Populus panel who have been involved in car crashes, and reveals that nearly 40% had crashed by the time they were 23 years old.
Analysis of these drivers’ first crashes shows that: 26% had crashed within two years of gaining their licence; one third of 18-24 year old drivers have been involved in an accident; and 28% had crashed by the time they were 21 years of age.
Interestingly, just 13% of first crashes occur at night, and 63% of the drivers interviewed their first collision without passengers in the car.
The AA Charitable Trust describes this as ‘a perfect storm of circumstances surrounding drivers’ first accidents’.
The report has been compiled jointly by the AA Charitable Trust and the Make Roads Safe campaign as part of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. It is being launched by Nigel Mansell, former F1 world champion and current member of the Commission for Global Road Safety, at the AA World at the Silverstone Classic.
As part of its commitment to improving road safety in the UK, the AA Charitable Trust has pledged another 1,000 free driver improvement courses for new drivers at risk.
The report calls for young drivers to be given more opportunities to drive in a safe, off-road environment before they turn 17. 73% of UK motorists believe this would make young drivers safer. It also suggests ways in which education could be improved for young people, many years before they even think about getting into the driving seat.
Nigel Mansell said: “I became a world champion by driving fast. I love cars and racing. But I know the place for speed is on a race track, not on the road.
“While road deaths among the young remain a serious problem here in the UK, in many parts of the world they have become nothing less than a crisis out of control.
“Someone is being killed or maimed every six seconds. It is an epidemic that is set to double within the next few years unless we take action.
“This is a vitally important issue which doesn’t get enough attention. Too many of our young people are still being killed or injured on the roads. These are preventable tragedies.”
Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “It’s no secret that new and young drivers are disproportionately represented in road crashes and we need to work together to stem this tide of carnage.
“Road safety education must be a life skill that starts at the age of three but is continually refreshed throughout life. It needs to begin many years before someone is old enough to apply for their provisional licence.
“By the age of 17 attitudes towards driving will already have been largely formed. If teenagers have had interesting and practical road safety education they are less likely to take dangerous risks when they get behind the wheel alone.”
Commenting on the report Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “Young male drivers especially suffer from a deadly combination of overconfidence and inexperience. Post-test training is without doubt the best way to address this.
“A focus on road safety in the national curriculum is currently non-existent and this needs to change. Driver training for under 17 year olds can be a fun way of introducing young people to safe driving.
“We could also make novice drivers a lot safer simply by making our deadliest rural roads an element of the driving test.”