The trouble with young drivers...

Young drivers – those aged between 17 and 19 – account for 12% of people who are killed or injured in road accidents despite only making up 1.5% of the total number of licensed drivers out there, according to a report commissioned by the RAC Foundation.
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The report, based upon research by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), looked at the number of accidents involving young drivers across 49 different areas of Britain and found, on average, teenage drivers were involved in almost one in eight (11.9%) of all crashes in which someone is hurt or injured. In some areas, teens are involved in almost a fifth of serious road crashes, and overall the findings indicate some significant regional variations.

Young driver accident hot spots

The study looked at the total number of casualties on the UK’s roads between 2008 and 2012 and found there was an average of 188,368 people injured in car accidents each year – 22,391 of which involved a young driver. Wales proved to be a particular accident hotspot for young drivers, as 18.2% of teenage motorists in Dyfed-Powys and 17.2% of those in Gwent were involved in accidents that resulted in death or serious injury. Cumbria and North Wales were next in line with 15.8%, followed by the Northern and Grampian region of Scotland where it was 15.7%, and then Cornwall with 15.5%.
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London recorded the smallest proportion at just 5.6%. Although there can be no definitive answer as to why the figure was so low in London, compared to some of the UK’s less densely populated conurbations, one factor could be the fact that there is a greater number of dangerous, fast-moving, single carriageway A roads in more rural spots. And while the government has pledged to spend £50billion on improving these roads over the next 25 years, it’s clear something needs to be done specifically about the problem posed by young drivers - could a graduated driving licence be the answer?

Is it time for a graduated driving licensing?

Minimum learning periods and lower alcohol limits for new drivers are just a couple of ideas put forward to try and cut the number of young drivers involved in serious road accidents, but one that seems to be gaining momentum is the idea of a graduated driving licence (GDL).
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GDL schemes work by placing temporary restrictions on newly qualified drivers – such as late night curfews and limits on the number of passengers they can carry – to help make sure they’re not exposed to undue risk early on in their driving careers. The stats show that one in five young drivers will have an accident within the first six months of passing their test, and newly qualified young drivers are more at risk not only through a lack of road experience, but also because of the behavioral and biological baggage that comes with being a teenager. Despite these figures and the fact a Private Member’s Bill reached its second reading in October, the government is still dragging its heels over implementing some sort of strategy to cut the number of accidents involving young drivers. And although the wheels are already in motion to introduce a GDL scheme in Northern Ireland, will this be enough to give Westminster the jump start it clearly needs? Over to you – what measures should be brought in to reduce the number of young people involved in serious or even fatal accidents?
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