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When and where are young drivers at risk?

Road bendWhen and where a young driver drives can greatly influence their risk of crashing. For example, night driving on rural roads with passengers can increase the chances of being involved in a collision.

New drivers are more likely to be involved in:

  • High speed crashes
  • Crashes caused by losing control of the vehicle
  • Crashes in the dark
  • Crashes when overtaking and negotiating bends.

Night driving

Young drivers are more likely to be involved in a collision that results in a fatality or serious injury at night, and this is particularly true for young male drivers. Although males aged 17-20 are seven times more likely to be involved in a collision than all male drivers, between 2am and 5am, their risk is 17 times higher.

The risk of young drivers being involved in a collision at night is thought to be because they are more likely to have been drinking or taking drugs, or taking risks such as speeding due to peer pressure from passengers. Driving at night also requires more care. Some young drivers can be under the impression that because roads are quieter at night it is okay for them to exceed the speed limit or pay less attention. However, it is important for young drivers to realise that driving at night can mean poorer visibility and a higher chance of encountering drink drivers on the roads. When driving at night it is important for young drivers to drive at the speed they can safely stop in.

Carrying passengers

Passengers can have a significant impact on the safety of a vehicle driven by a young driver. Passengers can divert the driver’s attention, and encourage certain behaviours, such as speeding and risky overtaking, especially on rural roads. Driving a car full of passengers of similar age increases the risk of a fatal accident for newly-qualified drivers by four times, compared to driving alone.

Being the “first” to pass within a group of friends can also bring added pressure, especially if the driver is expected to be the designated taxi service or drive friends home after parties.

Rural driving

Did you know?

59% of all road fatalities occur on rural roads.

Young drivers who live in rural areas of the UK are also 37 per cent more likely to be involved in an injury collision than their urban counterparts. Due to inexperience and poorer hazard perception skills, young drivers are more likely to be involved in high-speed crashes, crashes caused by losing control of the vehicle, crashes in the dark and crashes when overtaking and negotiating bends.

Fatal rural collisions often occur on a bend and result in greater vehicle damage, and head-on crashes are also more prevalent in rural areas. Our Rural Road Safety factsheet provides an overview of the statistics and the common causes of collisions on rural roads.

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