Youngsters face higher road risks

RURAL youngsters are at a much higher risk behind the wheel than their urban counterparts, reveals a study.

Rural young drivers are 44% more likely to be involved in an injury-causing collision, it found.

The study was produced by Road Safety Analysis to support a rural road safety campaign by the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs (NFYFC) and rural insurer NFU Mutual.

The NFYFC is calling for more support from government and local communities for rural young motorists – and help to ensure they drive safely.

Young rural people are 89% more likely to have a full driving licence than urban youngsters and that they are more likely to get their licences at an earlier age.

The NFYFC said this could be due to the lack of transport links in rural areas and the need for young people to be able to get to college, work or to socialise.

Between 2007 and 2011, 8,227 young rural drivers were involved in collisions where someone was either killed or seriously injured.

Many influencing factors for a collision involving a young driver are proportionally higher for those living in rural areas owing to the makeup of the road network and their own inexperience.

In particular, young rural drivers are two-thirds (68%) more likely to be involved in a collision on a road with a 60mph limit, the study found.

The RSA study also found that their inexperience meant that they are 28% more likely to be involved in a single vehicle collision than young urban drivers.

This figure increases to 45% when compared to rural adult drivers.

A number of factors also appear to be unique to young rural drivers.

Rural youngsters are 28% more likely to claim loss of control as a contributory factor and 16% more likely to have a collision on a wet road surface.

Furthermore, it seems young rural drivers are more likely to risk drink driving.

The study showed they are nearly two-thirds (60%) of young rural motorists are more likely to provide a positive breath test at the time of the collision.

The report's recommendations include graduated driving licences with restrictions for new drivers, driving tests that include rural roads, more transport options for young rural residents, black boxes fitted to cars to monitor speed and 'alcolocks' – alcohol testers which act as vehicle immobilisers.

The study has revealed the top 10 riskiest counties for young rural drivers to highlight where these interventions might be prioritised.

They are North and North East Lincolnshire, South Glamorgan, Lincolnshire, Surrey, East Sussex, Dyfed, Isle of Wight, Cheshire, Hereford and West Sussex.

NFYFC chairman Milly Wastie said: "This research shows that rural young drivers face distinct challenges on our country roads and a lack of education and support is costing lives.

"For example, 52% of rural young drivers are more likely to be involved in a collision on a bend than urban young drivers and 63% are more likely to be involved in a collision in the dark.

"We are working with NFU Mutual to ensure our Drive it Home campaign tackles these issues by offering our 25,000 members practical driver training courses.

"But more needs to be done to spread the safety messages wider."

Ms Wastie said the NFYFC wanted rural roads included within the driving test and more rural communities providing wider transport options for young people in their local area.

"We must work together to tackle road safety and to save lives."

The NFYFC is hosting a series of practical driving courses where youngsters will receive rural road lessons and sessions that simulate driving on ice, snow and muddy roads.

The full report can be accessed by clicking here.


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