A Warwickshire education programme sets out to reduce casualty rates for young drivers.
The number of drivers aged 17 to 24 killed or seriously injured has halved over the last decade from 54 in 2002 to 27 in 2011, however this group continues to be over represented in road casualty statistics.
Warwickshire County Council’s established education programme Driving Ambitions aims to combat this. The course for secondary school pupils, college students and other young people encourages participants to adopt positive attitudes to road use and to develop safe road behaviour.
Research conducted for the County Council shows that many young people form opinions that will influence their future driving behaviour by the age of 13, often taken from the driving behaviour of people they look up to and the way driving is portrayed in media such as films and computer games.
Positive messages are required to counter many of the negative behaviours they may be influenced by these and independent evaluation by educational psychologists shows that Driving Ambitions does this.
More than a quarter of drivers killed or seriously injured in Warwickshire last year were aged 17-24 but this group only makes up 8 per cent of licence holders (national DVLA figures), which puts the extent of the risk to this group in context.
Statistics also show that young people face a significant danger when they travel as a car passenger, with this age group making up almost a third of passengers killed or seriously injured.
Road collisions are the single biggest cause of accidental death to young people. Typical causes of collisions involving young drivers include:
- Loss of control, often due to excess speed. A significant cause of these crashes occur on rural roads and a quarter of 17-24 year old drivers killed or serious injured in 2011 had impacted with a tree.
- Driving too fast for the conditions, including loss of control on icy or wet roads.
- Poor observation; including failing to give way, not looking properly at junctions and driving into the rear of a vehicle that is slowing or has stopped.
- Driving impaired by alcohol.
Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, portfolio holder for community protection said: “In the vast majority of crashes in which a young driver is injured, they are the most blameworthy. The causes of these collisions tend to relate to lack of experience and over-confidence. Each new generation of driver seems to make the same mistakes as their predecessors did and too many end up learning the hard way when the vast majority of these crashes and resulting injuries are entirely avoidable.”
The high number of crashes involving young drivers has led to the Insurance Industry to call for significant changes to the licensing requirements for young people, including a minimum 12 month learning period, more structured learning syllabus, restrictions in the number of passengers new drivers can carry, hours they can drive and a lowered blood alcohol limit.
Driving Ambitions is delivered by experienced educators using a range of interactive learning materials. More information is available at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/roadsafetysecondaryschools or by telephoning 01926 418037.