Road Safety GB North East region has launched a new campaign urging young people to stop their friends from "driving like an idiot", citing peer pressure as the key to encouraging young people to drive more sensibly.
"Don’t Drive Stupid" has been launched to combat the "large proportion of young driver accidents" which are "the result of inexperience and bravado, as well as drug and alcohol impairment".
As well as traditional printed resources the campaign includes a viral film published on YouTube and it is also being promoted on Facebook and on twitter.
Despite young drivers holding only 8% of the region’s driving licences, they accounted for 26% of road casualties last year. One in four 17-year-olds who hold a driving licence will be involved in a collision, with the period between now and January seeing the greatest number of accidents. While the majority of accidents occur in the urban centres, within 2.2 miles of the driver’s home, a large proportion also happen on winding, country roads, where inexperienced drivers are more likely to lose control.
Alan Kennedy, road safety manager at Durham County Council, said: “A big cause of accidents involving young people is simply that they are not paying attention, they fail to look properly and are easily distracted.
“Also, many young people believe they are better drivers than they actually are. Some like to show off to their mates, drive inappropriately in poor weather, and always seem to be in a hurry.
“All of that is a recipe for disaster.
“Most young drivers are good drivers, but we want passengers to influence those friends that are not, and to tell them ‘don’t drive stupid’. It could save their lives.”
Road Safety GB North East is also encouraging all local authorities in the region to apply for funding to enable them to offer further driver training to people under the age of 24 who have passed their driving test but have little experience.
Durham County Council offers all young people in the county the opportunity to participate in its free EXCELerate advanced driving school, which is funded through NDORS (National Driver Offender Rehabilitation Scheme).
Alan Kennedy added: “We are not trying to teach young people how to drive – they have already passed their test – but we do teach them the skills to avoid the typical crashes that they are so often involved in.”