Road safety advice for teenagers and young people
Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK and worldwide. Less than one in 12 licence holders is under 25, yet one in five fatal crashes involve a driver of this age. The good news is you can use our advice to help keep yourself and your friends and family safe on the road, and take action to campaign for safer streets in your area.
Alternatives to driving
Consider whether you need to drive. Some young people see driving as a route to independence, even if they don’t actually need a car. But the reality is that driving is expensive, dangerous, not great for your health, and damaging to the environment. By choosing not to drive, and opting for alternatives such as walking, cycling or public transport you’ll be saving (probably a lot of) money, living a healthier lifestyle, doing your bit for the environment and reducing your risk of being involved in a devastating crash that could mean the end to your independence or your life.
See our fact pages on sustainable travel for more info on the alternatives to driving.
Staying safe on foot and bike
Look out for yourself and your friends when out on foot and bike. Choose the safest routes you can (which are often nicer anyway), like quieter, slower roads, with pavements if you’re walking or cycle paths if you’re going by bike.
It’s easy to get distracted by your phone or by friends, but you need to be alert to traffic. Put your phone away and take your earphones out when crossing the road. Don’t trust that drivers will spot you and be able to stop in time – many drivers go too fast and don’t pay enough attention, so anything you can do to protect yourself is a good thing.
Go to Brake’s cycling advice pages for more info on keeping safe while cycling.
Accepting lifts from mates
It’s a fact that young drivers are much more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than older drivers, and they’re even more at risk when carrying young passengers.
Never accept a lift from someone you don’t trust completely to drive under the speed limits, completely sober, and focused on the road.
If you’re going out with friends, plan ahead so you have a safe way to get home, and if you are getting a lift make sure it’s somebody you trust to drive safely. If you’re going to be drinking, check public transport or book a taxi in advance if it’s too far or not safe to walk. If you have a designated driver, make sure you trust them to stay completely off the booze and drugs – just one small drink or a few tokes on a joint will make them risky at the wheel, even if they look and sound fine.
If you learn to drive
Research shows young people, particularly young males, are more likely to take risks behind the wheel – and their inexperience means those risks are more likely to have horrific consequences. Taking risks like speeding (or driving too fast for conditions), driving on alcohol or drugs, or using a mobile at the wheel, massively increase your risk of being killed or seriously injured in a crash, or killing or injuring someone else.
Also consider taking out insurance with a company that offers ‘black box’ technology. These devices monitor your speed, braking and cornering to see how well you drive, with safe drivers saving money on their insurance. It’s a nice reward for your decision to drive safely.
Nick Bennett has been in a wheelchair since he was 18 and lives alone in sheltered housing. He needs help getting dressed and making meals. Before his crash he had a good job, a girlfriend and was a keen footballer and snowboarder. Nick had only recently passed his test when he had a head on collision with a three tonne lorry because he tried to overtake when he shouldn’t have.
The force of the crash, and the fact that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt, caused both of Nick’s lungs to collapse. His brain stem, responsible for speech, coordination and other key body functions, was severely twisted.
Now Nick tours schools and speaks to young people about his experiences to try and convince young people not to make the same mistakes.
Nick says: "If you’re young, you’re most likely to die in a crash. If you’re male and young, the chances of death are even higher. But it’s even more likely you’ll suffer horrendous injuries like mine.
I would urge all young people not to gamble with their lives like I did with mine. I thought I was invincible, and learned the hard way I'm not.”
What can you do?
- Make the Brake Pledge and keep safe on the road
- See our other advice pages for more information on keeping safe
- Run a campaign in your school, college or community to encourage safer road use
- Encourage your school, college, employer or club to register to be involved in Road Safety Week, and help them coordinate an awareness-raising campaign
- Fundraise for Brake, to support our work to save lives and support bereaved and injured road crash victims
- Back Brake's L for Later campaign to protect young people on the road