9,000 preventable injuries in last two years as government stalls on tackling young driver crashes

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Brake, the road safety charity

Today (25 March 2015) marks two years since the government promised to overhaul young driver rules to tackle the devastating toll of deaths and injuries involving young drivers on UK roads.

It has been estimated that almost 9,000 injuries, 866 of them deaths or serious injuries, could have been prevented in this time if the government had introduced a system of graduated driver licensing [1].

Brake, the road safety charity, has condemned the government’s failure to deliver progress, and urged politicians of all parties to commit to putting young driver safety high on the political agenda early in the new parliament.

Brake is calling for the introduction of graduated driver licensing, which includes a minimum learner period (usually 12 months) and a post-test novice period with restrictions to limit exposure to risk, like a late-night curfew and restrictions on carrying young passengers. Such systems are used successfully in other countries including New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and many US states. It is estimated it could prevent 400 deaths and serious injuries a year in the UK [2].

Graduated driver licensing has widespread backing from experts and public alike. Brake recently (12 February 2015) joined other road safety experts, academics and insurers in signing an open letter in the British Medical Journal demanding action. More than two thirds (68%) of the public are in favour [3].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Tackling young driver crashes is one of the biggest challenges in ending the misery of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Young drivers are greatly overrepresented in serious and fatal crashes, and very often it is young people themselves whose lives are lost or who suffer horrific injuries. It’s an epidemic that has to end, and we know that graduated driver licensing works in reducing these crashes.

“Evidence from other countries, the weight of expert opinion and the balance of public support are all behind graduated driver licensing. This government has continually kicked this issue into the long grass and failed to deliver its long-promised green paper on young driver safety. There is no excuse for the next government to repeat this failure to act.”

Brake campaigns for graduated driver licensing to stop young driver crashes through its too young to die campaign. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #tooyoungtodie.

Read more about graduated driver licensing and facts on young driver crashes.

Notes for editors

Young driver crashes: the facts

  • Drivers aged 17-19 make up only 1.5% of UK licence holders, but are involved in 12% of fatal and serious crashes [4].
  • Drivers aged 16-19 are more than twice as likely to die in a crash as drivers aged 40-49 [5].
  • One in four 18-24 year olds (23%) crash within two years of passing their driving test [6].
  • Young male drivers are involved in many more crashes than young female drivers [7].


Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

[1] Graduated driver licensing: a regional analysis of potential casualty savings in Great Britain, RAC Foundation, 2014
[2] ibid
[3] Young driver safety: a public attitude survey, RAC Foundation, 2014
[4] New research highlights need for graduated driving licensing, Transport Research Laboratory, 2014
[5] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS30025
[6] Young drivers at risk, The AA, 2012
[7] Reported road casualties Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS30011

Tags: young drivers graduated licencing scottish government road deaths serious injury