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Young drivers: a full report

With news that Ford is providing free driving tuition to young people to make them safer drivers, we look at the facts surrounding novice drivers and ask what can be done to address the worrying statistics

25% of road casualties are young drivers - and accidents are often caused by peer pressure

25% of road casualties are young drivers - and accidents are often caused by peer pressure

Following announcements from Ford UK yesterday regarding the introduction of their Ford Driving Skills For Life programme in the UK, we take a look at why schemes like this are necessary – and what can be done to reduce accidents among young drivers.

Findings from Ford, as well as their DSFL partners The AA and RoSPA, along with statistics from the Department of Transport, was included in yesterday’s announcement - and revealed some startling facts:

  • Six people die on the road every day
  • Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death among 18-24 year-olds.
  • In 2011, over 33,000 personal injury road accidents reported involved at least one young driver
  • 18-24 year-olds in Europe are almost twice as likely as anyone else to be killed in a road accident
  • In Europe, between 2000 and 2009, more than 76,000 18-24 year-olds were killed in road accidents – almost 1/5 of all European road fatalities
  • For each young driver killed on the roads, there are 1.2 other passengers or road users killed in the same accident.
  • 1 in 5 of all reported personal injury road accidents in 2011 involved young novice drivers and 1552 were killed or seriously injured (412 killed, 4482 seriously injured) – that’s 25% of all casualties.

Dangerous driving habits in young people

Ford's poll of 9500 people (young drivers and their parents) shows that, while most young drivers ranked 'getting to their destination safely' as the most important factor in a car journey, they were guilty of some very bad driving habits:

  • 45% of them admitted to having broken the speed limit
  • Almost half admitted to eating or drinking at the wheel
  • 2 in 5 admitted to using a mobile phone while driving
  • 27% said they’d been involved in an accident or near miss
  • 11% had lost control of their car
  • 10% had been involved in a road rage incident
  • 4% admitted to driving after drinking excess alcohol

It’s little wonder, then, that 31% of parents of 17-24 year-olds in the UK are more concerned about their children being involved in a car crash than being a victim of crime, losing their job, or failing school or college. Parents survey were of the view that peer pressure and distraction would be the biggest safety risk for their 17-24 year-old children.

Why are young people in car accidents?

Accidents on the road happen for a variety of reasons: 21% of all collisions occur because someone isn’t watching the road. But there are reasons that appear to be more specific to young people:

  • Loss of control: 15% (compared to 6% of other drivers)
  • Careless, reckless or in a hurry: 12% (6% of other drivers)
  • Slippery roads: 12% (6% of other drivers)
  • Learner or inexperienced driver: 10% (1% of other drivers)
  • Exceeding speed limit: 6% (2% of other drivers)

Young drivers are most likely to be in accident due to driving at night, drink driving, the effect of other passengers (peer pressure), lack of experience and driver’s attitude.

Creating safer drivers

Choosing a good driving instructor is, of course, essential. The Pass Plus course – six hours of supervised driving on motorways, at night and in varying driving conditions – is a Government scheme to prepare drivers who have just passed their tests for driving in the real world. The Institute of Advanced Motoring is currently campaigning for learner drivers to be allowed to drive on motorways in order to gain invaluable experience before they sit their test. There are also calls for compulsory night lessons, a minimum learning period and the test to be made harder to pass.

As well as Ford’s Driving Skills for Life initiative, Autocar Start from Autocar promises to “give drivers the safest possible start to their journey” over 3 years – at a price of £299 a month. The package includes driving tuition (before and after your test) as well as a Smart car and fully comprehensive insurance.

The rising cost of insurance

According to the Association of British Insurers, young drivers are far more likely to make a claim of over £500,00 (i.e. a catastrophic claim) than any other drivers. It’s unsurprising, with all this in mind, that insurance for a newly-qualified driver can be very expensive – up to £4000 a year.

However, new initiatives such as the “black box” – a telematics system that monitors your driving style, including speed, how quickly you take corners, the hours of the day you drive, and how quickly you accelerate and brake – could reduce premiums for safer drivers. Completing Pass Plus after your test can also reduce your insurance quote.

If you're looking for vehicles that are relatively cheap to insure, the Chevrolet Spark or the Citroen C1 could be a good call. But, before you go, read up on the Good Egg Safety Guides for New Drivers and Parents of New Drivers.

About the Author

Kirsty Cooke

Staff writer at Arnold Clark