Make Roads Safe For Young Drivers

Radical proposals to reduce the 1,200 young drivers killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads last year were announced today (20 September) by a new coalition of insurance companies, road safety groups and motoring organisations. The ABI (Association of British Insurers) proposals are backed by the RAC Foundation, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, and road safety groups Brake, RoadSafe and the Make Roads Safe Campaign.

The four proposals are:

  • A minimum learning period before young drivers take their driving test. The RAC Foundation believes that the learning period does not need to be 12 months. Some young drivers actually under-go structured training before they are 17. The minimum learning period should be long enough to cover a structured learning programme.

  • A structured learning programme, with learners or their instructor recording in a logbook time spent driving and experience before taking their test.

  • Measures to reduce the number of passengers carried by young drivers. This could include limiting the number of passengers during the first few months of driving. Experience in California and elsewhere suggests this would cut casualties dramatically.

  • Less driving at night. Over half of accidents involving young drivers occur at night. Some insurers already offer lower premiums to young drivers who only drive during the day.

Speaking at the at the ABI's first national motor conference today, Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said:

"Young males are ten times more likely to be killed on the roads than older, more experienced drivers. Last year 1,200 young drivers were killed or seriously injured on the roads. Over the summer there were a number of tragic crashes killing car loads of teenagers."

The trend seen this summer is reflected in the official statistics. There has been a spate of fatal road accidents involving car occupants in their teens and early twenties, travelling on the road late at night, sometimes after attending a gig or music festival. A particular feature of these crashes has been multiple deaths of teenagers travelling together in one car, with devastating results for local communities.

Indie band Dirty Pretty Things played a special gig in London last week to draw attention to the high number of teenage road deaths in the UK and to point out that, worldwide, someone is killed in a road crash every 30 seconds.

The gig, for the Make Roads Safe campaign, was partly inspired by the deaths of three teenage girls in Suffolk in July following a concert that Dirty Pretty Things had played. Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who headlined the concert, have also endorsed the campaign. Some close friends and family of the teenage crash victims attended the gig which also involved performances from Paul Weller and Russell Brand.

Other fatal crashes involving young drivers have included:

  • A crash on the M25 involving a car returning from the V Festival in August, which killed three people in their teens and early twenties;

  • A crash in Huddersfield on 1st September in which three teenage girls were killed and two young men in their twenties were seriously injured;

  • A crash in Aberdeenshire which killed a teenage driver and injured his two passengers after their car hit a tree in the early hours of August 28th

  • A crash in Cornwall in August which seriously injured a young driver and killed his 15 year old passenger. More than 700 people attended the girl's funeral.

Road crashes are the number one killer of people in their teens and twenties in the UK, and second only to HIV/AIDS as a killer of young men worldwide.

Anthony Rossomando, guitarist, Dirty Pretty Things, said:

"We need to do more to highlight the fact that 1.2 million people are needlessly killed on the roads around the world each year. This is why Dirty Pretty Things are supporting the Make Roads Safe campaign."

Edmund King, spokesman for the Make Roads Safe campaign, said:

"The deaths of so many of our young people in such a short time should be a cause for national concern. We need to make young drivers aware of the dangers they face, particularly when driving at night, and that is why we have teamed up with Dirty Pretty Things to raise awareness about the scale of road deaths both here in the UK and across the world. We also support measures to improve driver training and to encourage young drivers to understand the greater risks of driving at night with a full car of passengers."

4 October 2006 Staff

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