Action Is Needed Urgently To Improve Young Driver Safety

According to a new report to tackle the risks faced by young drivers, zero tolerance should become the norm on drink driving, additional hazard perception training and graduated forms of licensing. 

Published today (26 Jan) the YEARS (Young Europeans Acting for Road Safety) report has been produced by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS). 

The report sets out a number of other recommendations for 'urgent action' including: 

  • Better enforcement of speed and drink-drive limits, seat belt wearing and mobile phone use: this particularly benefits young road users
  • Encouraging more accompanied driving to help young people gain experience
  • Adopting licensing systems that encourage young people to gain more experience while limiting certain high-risk activities such as driving at night and with passengers
  • Lowering the alcohol limit for young drivers
  • A greater focus on safety initiatives for young riders
  • Enabling and encouraging young people to use safer cars

Over 3,800 young people (18-24) are killed each year on EU roads - the biggest single cause of death for this age group. Young riders are particularly at risk, with deaths for moped ripers peaking between the ages of 15 and 17 and for motorcycle riders between 18 and 24 years.

The report does acknowledge that the UK has a good overall road safety record but says, as in many other European countries, young motorcyclists and drivers form a high percentage of deaths.

Among the report's key findings are a range of impairments and distractions affect young drivers, including increased social activity, greater exposure to alcohol or drugs, the influence of peer-age passengers and the effects of fatigue.

The report also reveals that the lack of experience on the road means that young drivers are worse at anticipating and reacting to hazards, and less aware of how best to drive and ride in particular road conditions and situations.

David Davies, executive director of PACTS said: “The scale of death and injury involving young drivers and riders is a tragedy. They continue to make up a disproportionate number of road casualties - in the UK and across Europe. We need policymakers to commit to introducing proven measures that can help reduce this risk.

“The UK has led the way in Europe in aspects of improving the safety of young road users, including hazard perception testing and telematics-based insurance. PACTS welcomes the current proposals by the Government and DVSA to change the driving test and improve motorcycle training. 

More however, could and should be done. This is particularly important as the UK is one of the few countries in Europe where 17 is the driving test age. We need to find ways to encourage young drivers to use safer cars, and to get more experience and hazard perception training before taking the test.

“We can also learn from our others countries which have lower drink-drive limits for novice drivers and ways to encourage or require drivers to get more experience before taking the test. “

Traffic law enforcement of speed, seat-belt wearing, mobile phone use and drink/drug driving are particularly important to the safety of young road users. The reduction in police enforcement is very worrying.”