There are a number of worrying statistics surrounding young and new drivers and the number of accidents they are involved in.
Research from road safety charity Brake found that despite 17 to 19-year-olds only making up 1.5% of driving licence holders, they are involved in 9% of all fatal and serious crashes in the UK. It is for this reason that new driver insurance premiums are extremely expensive.
At ALA we conducted some of our own research into the issue of young and new driver accidents, considered reasons behind the phenomenon and looked at how new all drivers can protect themselves.
New Driver Accident Rates
From our research we found that just over one in five (21.6%) new drivers had been involved in an accident during their first year of driving. 26.12% of new drivers aged between 18 and 24 admitted to having an accident in their first year, as did 27.7% of new drivers aged between 25 and 34.
For those over 35-years-old, the number of accidents fell, with only 20% of drivers between 35 to 44 and 16.6% of new drivers over 55-years-old being involved in one. This shows that, although the figures are higher than normal, age does have an impact.
Why are Young Drivers so at Risk?
There are various factors that mean young drivers can be more at risk in the first few years after passing their test. These include:
- Risk taking: Young drivers are more likely to take risks when behind the wheel, such as speeding, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and not wearing seat belts. All of these can lead to or result in a serious accident.
- Over confidence: Whether it’s showing off to friends or simply a trait of being young, many can be overconfident about their driving ability, which is more likely to lead to a mistake and accident.
- Inexperience: Simply lacking experience on the roads means many young drivers will be slower to react to hazards and therefore more at risk.
How to Reduce New Driver Accidents
Between April 2016 and March 2017 there were 1,730,936 driving tests conducted with 815,168 passes at a pass rate of 47.1%. The driving test itself is constantly being improved and updated, so that all new drivers should be at an acceptable level to drive safely.
Raising the driving age has been suggested as one option to cut down on the number of accidents involving young drivers. 9% of accidents are caused by drivers under the age of 19, so increasing the minimum driving age by two years would theoretically cut down accidents by this amount.
Earlier this year, following years of pressure from road safety groups, the government confirmed that from 2018 learner drivers will finally be allowed on motorways, albeit only in a dual control car with a qualified instructor. 97% of new drivers do not take the current post-test motorway driving course Pass Plus, meaning that the first time they use a motorway they are alone in a potentially daunting situation. They may also avoid using motorways altogether, or use them incorrectly if they do. This positive step should equip learners with invaluable skills and confidence before they venture onto the motorways as newly qualified drivers, with the hope that safety is increased and the number of accidents are reduced as a result.