Zero tolerance on drink driving, additional hazard perception training and graduated forms of licensing should become the norm to help tackle the disproportionate risks faced by young drivers in Europe, according to the YEARS report (Young Europeans Acting for Road Safety).
More than 3,800 young people (aged 18-24) are killed each year on EU roads – the biggest single cause of death for this age group. According to the report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and the UK Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), young people continue to face a unique combination of factors that leads to a higher rate of collisions and deaths.
Biological and social changes between the ages of 15-25 affect the risk perception of young people, according to the report. A lack of experience on the road also means that they are worse at anticipating and reacting to hazards, and less aware of how best to drive and ride in particular road conditions and situations.
A range of impairments and distractions affect young people, linked to increased social activity, greater exposure to alcohol and drugs, the influence of peer-age passengers and the effects of fatigue. In-car distraction from mobile devices is also a problem. Young people tend to drive smaller and older vehicles. These cars often have a lower crashworthiness star rating, and lack the safety technologies featured in newer models. The use of seat belts and protective clothing is also poor amongst young people.
Most other countries in Europe do not allow young people to drive unsupervised until they are 18. They also have longer periods between beginning to learn to drive and driving solo, which allows young people to build up more driving experience before taking their test. In the UK the minimum solo driving age is 17. However, the UK has also been leading the way when it comes to hazard perception testing and telematics based insurance for young drivers.
Commenting on the report, David Davies, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety said: “The scale of death and injury involving young drivers and riders is a tragedy. They continue to make up a disproportionate number of road casualties – in the UK and across Europe. We need policymakers to commit to introducing proven measures that can help reduce this risk.”