as survey reveals four in 10 young people think it’s ok to drive at a lethal 40mph or more in a 30mph limit
11 May 2011
From: Brake, the road safety charity, PO BOX 548, Huddersfield, HD1 2XZ
A campaign appealing for a government overhaul of the learning to drive system is being launched outside Parliament by the charity Brake, the Association of British Insurers and The Co-operative Insurance, to mark the start of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety
Together with young people and parents who have been bereaved through young driver crashes, they are calling on the Government to introduce Graduated Driver Licensing to reduce deaths and injuries caused by young and inexperienced drivers.
The calls come as a survey of young people aged 16 - 21 reveals dangerous attitudes to two top killers, speed and drink driving, adding weight to the campaign’s calls for a regulatory approach to tackling deaths and injuries caused by young drivers. It found:
- Four in 10 young people (41%) think it’s ok to break 30mph by a lethal 10mph or more, which would give a driver no chance of stopping in time if a child ran out
- Nearly a quarter (24%) think it’s ok to drink up to one and a half pints of beer or equivalent alcohol before driving. One in eleven (9%) of young males think it is ok to drink more than this and get behind the wheel. (Any amount of alcohol impairs driving ability.)
The survey also found six in 10 (58%) young people believe that young drivers behave more dangerously with young passengers in their cars.
Improvements to the learning to drive system would address these areas and others, for example by restricting time of day that young drivers can drive (to prevent late night speeding crashes), giving young drivers a lower alcohol limit and restricting them from carrying young passengers.
Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance and Health at the Association of British Insurers, said: “We must work together to reduce the unacceptable number of deaths and serious injuries involving young drivers and their passengers on our roads. The current learning to drive regime is failing young people, as there is much more to driving than simply passing the driving test. Too many youngsters get behind the wheel ill equipped for unsupervised driving. This is why we have long advocated structured learning to help young drivers build up their driving skills gradually and safely, and graduated licensing for newly qualified drivers. Insurers are keen to play their part and there are some specialist insurance policies aimed at encouraging young drivers to drive more safely, so managing their motor insurance costs.”
David Neave, Director of General Insurance at The Co-operative Insurance, said: "There is a clear need to balance the freedom that driving gives to young adults with the responsibility to consider their own safety and that of other road-users. Today's research findings and the dreadful crash statistics suggest that this balance is not currently being struck. As a responsible insurer we are already doing what we can to educate our young customers about how to drive safely, but we are keen to work with Government and other organisations to introduce additional measures to improve the safety of our roads."
Bereaved father, Tony Davison, said: “I have first-hand experience of the devastation that road crashes cause. My 18 year old son was killed by a young driver who took risks and paid the ultimate price, along with my son. That’s why I am adding my voice to this crucial campaign. I’m proud to support Brake in calling for the introduction of Graduated Driver Licensing to help keep young people safe on the road, and reduce the number of families, like ourselves, who have to experience the untold grief of a police officer knocking on their door to deliver the news that their loved one has been killed on the road. It is a life shattering experience that can, and must, be prevented from happening to so many other families.”
Young driver casualties in the UK
Young people age 15-24 are more likely to die in a preventable road crash than from any other single cause. While young drivers aged 17-24 account for one in eight licence holders, they are involved in one in four road deaths and serious injuries. One in five will crash in their first six months after passing their test and, every year, more than 3,300 young drivers and passengers aged 17-24 are killed or suffer a life-changing serious injury in a road crash, taking many more innocent road users of all ages with them. There is something simple that we can do to stop this carnage. By changing the way that people learn to drive we can make an incredible difference.
Brake, the Association of British Insurers and The Co-operative Insurance call for urgent action by the Government to tackle the number of tragic deaths and serious crashes involving young people on our roads each year.
Brake’s Too young to die campaign calls for a system of Graduated Driver Licensing, to allow new drivers to build their driving skills and experience gradually, while their exposure to higher risk driving situations is restricted. Brake recommends a minimum period of learning to drive of one year before taking a driving test. Once passed, the novice driver would be allowed to drive unsupervised but would have restrictions on their licence for a minimum period of two years, including a drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood (and effective zero tolerance limit), restrictions on passengers in their vehicle and restrictions on driving at night.
After this minimum two year novice period, the driver would take a second test to show that they have skills to drive on all types of road, which if passed, would allow them access to a full licence. Click here for a full break down of the Graduated Driver Licensing system being called for.
Research basis for these recommendations
Young drivers are more at risk because their inexperience means they have a poorer ability to spot hazards (and therefore to cope with risky situations) and their youth means a greater tendency to engage in risky driving behaviour. Both of these problems need to be addressed within regulations on learning to drive.
When devising the recommendations set out above, evidence on length of learning, night time driving, passengers and drink driving was considered alongside evidence on Graduated Driver Licensing abroad, evidence on the impact that it may have in the UK and support for a system of Graduated Driver Licensing. A full dossier of this evidence is available here.
Tony Davison’s son, Adrian Davison, 18, was killed just after midnight on 4 November 2002, on the A660, near Bramhope. He had been on a night out with his best friend Nigel Rhodes, 18, who was driving them home. They had been drinking and Nigel's blood alcohol count was about twice the legal limit. Adrian spoke to his dad Tony on his mobile just minutes before the crash, to say they were on their way home. Just after midnight, Nigel overtook another car at speed and pulled back in, narrowly missing a pedestrian island in the middle of the road. He struggled to regain control and the car shot across the carriageway and crashed. Nigel died instantly and Adrian died at the scene of the crash a short time later.
Since Adrian’s death, Tony has devoted himself to delivering 2young2die workshops, an education project run by Brake and sponsored by The Co-operative Insurance. Tony visits secondary schools and army bases to deliver presentations to young people about the dangers of taking risks behind the wheel.
Tony is supporting calls for the introduction of Graduated Driver Licensing and will be attending the launch of the campaign for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.
Tony is available for interview at the launch on the 10 May 2011 (see box above). Call Ellen on 01484 550067 for any further information required or for interviews outside of these times.
Notes to editors:
The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety
Brake supports the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. The official launch of the Decade is on the 11 May 2011. Click here for the official website.
Road Safety Week
The theme for this year’s Road Safety Week, 21 – 27 November 2011, is ‘Too young to die’. During Road Safety Week, Brake will be running some events specifically around the theme of fatal and serious crashes caused by young drivers and often resulting in young deaths and disability.
The research was conducted on behalf of Brake, The Association of British Insurers and The Co-operative Insurance by Redshift who surveyed 500 young people aged 16 – 21.
Brake is an independent national road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the six deaths and 70 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake produces educational road safety literature, runs community training programmes and runs events including Road Safety Week (21-27 November 2011). Brake’s Fleet Safety Forum provides up-to-date fleet safety resources to fleet managers and runs a year-round programme of events. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.
About the Association of British Insurers
The ABI is the voice of the UK’s insurance, investment and long-term savings industry. It has over 300 members, which together account for around 90% of premiums in the UK domestic market.
The ABI’s role is to:
- Be the voice of the UK insurance industry, leading debate and speaking up for insurers.
- Represent the UK insurance industry to government, regulators and policy makers in the UK, EU and internationally, driving effective public policy and regulation.
- Advocate high standards of customer service within the industry and provide useful information to the public about insurance.
- Promote the benefits of insurance to the government, regulators, policy makers and the public.
About The Co-operative Insurance
The Co-operative Insurance is part of The Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), part of The Co-operative Group. The Co-operative Group is the world’s largest consumer co-operative with around five million members and over £14 billion turnover. It is characterised by its unique ethical and member reward policies and very high levels of customer advocacy.
In March 2011 The Co-operative Insurance launched a Young Driver motor insurance policy, with the aim of improving road safety and reducing the high cost of insurance faced by most young people. The product uses Smartbox technology to measure driving behaviours, including speed, braking, cornering and time of driving. Safer Driver discounts are rewarded to drivers who demonstrate excellent driving behaviours.
For more information, contact Nuala Ryan at The CFS press office on 0161 903 3808 or
 The research was conducted on behalf of Brake, The Association of British Insurers and The Co-operative Insurance by Redshift who surveyed 500 young people aged 16 – 21.
 8,189 young people aged 16 – 25 who have been killed on UK roads in the last 10 years. Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2000 – 2009, Department for Transport, received 2011 and Reported Injury Road Traffic Collision Statistics 2000 – 2009, Police Service of Northern Ireland, received 2011.
 Death registrations in England and Wales, ONS, 2010
 Reported road accidents involving young car drivers: Great Britain 2009, DfT, 2011
 Learning to Drive: a consultation paper, DSA, 2008
 Reported road casualties Great Britain 2009, DfT, 2010