Young Drivers To Be More Cautious

Young drivers not learning to avoid crashes with vulnerable road users quick enough.

Today (10th January 2018), a new report was published by the UK’s leading road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart and TRL into crashes involving young drivers. This came with results displaying how car accidents involving young drivers has concluded that they need to learn quickly how to avoid crashes with the most vulnerable users on our roads.  
The report found that while they learn much quicker than expected to avoid single vehicle loss of control collisions, they learn a lot slower how to deal with vulnerable road users, be safe on the motorway and safely complete low-speed maneuvers.
IAM RoadSmart said these findings proved a surprise, as the classic young driver crash usually involves going too fast on a country road. It would seem that new drivers themselves soon pick up the skills to stay safe on our highest risk roads.
The report, titled Young Novice Driver Collision Types, makes several key recommendations to improve new driver training particularly in hazard perception around vulnerable road users and around other vehicles.
The report underlines the critical importance of gaining driving experience in a wide variety of traffic situations. In their first year on the road, experts suggest an average 17-year-old driver can expect their risk of being involved in a crash to reduce by 36% because of driving experience, but only by 6% owing to ageing and maturity.
This report set out to try and identify which aspects of driving are learned quickest and which take more time. Targeting those skills that they struggle to take in could bring the largest benefits to road safety for new drivers.

Some positive news is that analysis of collision trends suggests a substantial reduction in crashes overall for the two youngest age groups between 2002 and 2015. The accident rate for 17-20-year-old car drivers reduced by 49% in this time, while the rate for 21-29-year-olds reduced by 33%.
Existing research found the following factors led to a higher rate of crashes among younger people:
  • Inexperience and poor judgment in more difficult driving conditions (poor weather, poor visibility, minor rural roads).
  • Inadequate control of the car (single vehicle accidents, skidding, overturning, leaving the road).
  • Lifestyle factors (social driving particularly at night and at weekends, when factors such as alcohol and peer pressure affect where and how young people drive).
  • Economic factors which result in young drivers being more likely to have cheaper older cars which offer them less protection from injury than newer cars would do.
The report also concluded:
  • Travel behaviour has changed with 17-20-year-olds driving less and walking or cycling more.
  • Those aged 21-29 years travel further than 17-20-year-olds each year, with large employment related journeys.
  • The collision rate for drivers aged 17-20 years declined more quickly than the rate for 21-29-year-olds between 2002 and 2015.
  • Compared with the overall rate of learning, young drivers learn more quickly to avoid crashes involving a single vehicle, loss of control, on B roads, at night or where the vehicle leaves the carriageway.
  • Possibly related to these crash types, young drivers also learn more rapidly to avoid contributory factors such as speeding, driving too fast for the conditions, swerving, loss of control, inexperienced and anxious.
  • The trend for crashes on motorways is unique and initially increases before demonstrating a possible delayed learning curve. Results also suggest that learning to safely use slip roads take longer than the general learning rate.
  • New drivers also appear to be slow at learning to avoid collisions in certain conflict scenarios in slow manoeuvring situations and with vulnerable road users. This might be indicative of poor hazard perception skills.
And it recommended the following actions:
  • Further research to understand why novice drivers are involved in and learn quickly to avoid single vehicle loss of control type crashes. This can inform the development of targeted interventions and possible training.
  • Consider options for reducing young driver crashes at night (e.g. additional experience gained during the learner phase).
  • The government’s plans to allow learners on motorways are fully justified by the report as it is clear new drivers are likely to benefit from practice on motorways.
  • Explore the role that advanced hazard perception training might offer in reducing the threat young drivers pose to Vulnerable Road Users.
  • Explore the apparent trend of young drivers’ vehicles being more likely to be hit from the rear. There may be practical, hazard perception or anticipation training that could be of benefit.
  • Investing in the Pass Plus course.
Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said: “It is really useful to learn more about how young drivers are gaining the experience they need to have a safe driving career."
“However, analysing the results, it is vital that government, road safety bodies and the driver instruction industry work together to generate new strategies to target those skills that are not being learned at the fastest rate."
“It also shows that in the formative years of driving, there is clearly a need for post-test training to continue, to build an experience that can reduce the number of needless tragedies on our roads.”
To conclude, this shows how, although passing your test may be an exciting time for a young driver – don't get ahead of yourself and remember safety is the main priority.
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