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RAC Foundation renews call for young driver green paper

18 May 2015

Story from the RAC Foundation.

In 2013, 234 teenage car passengers were killed or seriously injured in Great Britain when the young driver (17-19) they were travelling with was involved in a crash.

When casualties of all severities are included the annual figure rose to 2,144. These numbers were calculated by the RAC Foundation using MAST Online.

The data shows that of all teenage car passengers killed or seriously injured over this period, 45% were passengers in cars driven by 17-19 year olds.

Previous research for the RAC Foundation showed that while teenage drivers (17-19) make up only 1.5% of full licence holders they are involved in 12% of accidents where someone is killed or seriously hurt.

One in five newly qualified young drivers will have an accident within six months of passing their test.

The annual figures suggest the number of teenagers hurt in accidents where a teenager is driving has declined over recent years and at a faster rate than the general fall in road casualties. But rather than indicating that young drivers are becoming inherently safer it has been argued that the drop is down to:

  • Falling licence holding among young people
  • Falling trip rates among young people
  • Safer cars

In light of the figures, the RAC Foundation is renewing its call for the publication of a green paper on young driver safety, something that was promised by the coalition government but not delivered. Potential solutions include the wider use of telematics ‘black box’ insurance – where safer driving styles are rewarded with lower insurance premiums – and graduated licensing.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The casualty figures do not cast blame for accidents, but given the disproportionate number of young drivers involved in accidents the conclusion must be that many teenagers are being killed by the inexperience of their friends at the wheel.

“The increasing take-up of telematics-based insurance may help cut young driver accidents but graduated licensing has shown consistent positive results around the world.

“Graduated licensing has been common in many countries for some time and would help keep newly qualified young drivers, and their passengers, safe during the critical first thousand miles after people have passed their test. It is a tragedy it has not been introduced or even debated as a policy option.”

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