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Young drivers four times more likely to be involved in road accidents

Posted on Tuesday 27 September 2016
Young driver campaign 1

Road Safety GB North East Chairman Paul Watson and Gateshead Council’s Road Safety Officer Angela Burnett urge drivers to take it easy

Young drivers are being urged to take more care on the roads as it is revealed they are four times more likely to be involved in road accidents than other drivers – with the risk increasing when they have a car full of friends.

And Gateshead has the fifth highest number of young driver casualties out of 12 North East local authority areas, with the more rural counties of County Durham and Northumberland having the highest.

The news comes as Road Safety GB North East launches its Young Driver Campaign and reveals the main causes of accidents for people aged between 17 and 24 are failing to look properly, risk-taking, distraction, speeding, inexperience and driving while impaired by drink or drugs.

Councillor Malcolm Brain, Gateshead Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport said: “Many young drivers are good drivers, however, figures show that if you are aged 17-24 you are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than other people. This may be due to their own actions, or simply inexperience at avoiding the dangerous actions of other drivers.”

Paul Watson of Road Safety GB North East said: “We are urging young drivers to do everything they can to safeguard themselves and their passengers, by being sensible and taking responsibility for each other. If the driver is acting irresponsibly, tell them to stop. If a passenger is distracting the driver, do something about it. Good mates do what’s right and look out for each other.”

He added: “If you focus solely on the road, you have a much better chance of avoiding a collision. Young drivers may not always be concerned about their own welfare, but could they live with the guilt if their behaviour led to the death of a friend? That’s the reality.”

Between 2011 and 2015, almost a third of road accident injuries in the region related to collisions involving young drivers. Whilst young drivers were not at fault for all collisions they were involved in, figures showed that about 20% of all people injured were aged between 17 and 24, despite that age bracket only accounting for only 7% of driving licence-holders.

Whilst there has been a decrease in young driver accidents in recent years, nationally, after suicide, road traffic accidents are the main cause of death of young people.

In the past five years, 38 young drivers have been killed on the region’s roads, 440 were seriously injured and almost 4,000 slightly injured. However, a total of 64 young people have died in that time, including passengers and pedestrians.

Last week, Councillor Brain also proposed a motion to Gateshead Council that all relevant agencies holding road safety responsibilities should review their work, following  recent tragic losses of life due to dangerous driving.