15 May 2015

The message is clear – #DriveSafe

On Wednesday, Carrot Insurance hosted a Twitter discussion on the safety of young drivers, with the aim of finding out what people think should be done to make the roads a safer place. Research by JAM PR on Carrot’s behalf shows that one in eight young drivers are unaware of the new drug-driving laws, 25% of Carrot’s insured customers wouldn’t trust fully driverless cars, and that young drivers on telematics ‘black box’ insurance plans are less likely to have accidents.

The suggestions and comments people tweeted in included encouragement for young drivers to seek out extra driving tuition right from the start in order to improve their skills, curfews to be set for young or newly-qualified drivers, increased awareness campaigns backed by youth brands such as clothing or soft drinks companies, exposure of young drivers to graphic photos and videos of car crashes, and stressing that passengers can cause accidents just as much as drivers.

BBC Breakfast News on Wednesday also included items on young driver safety, presented by John Maguire, who visited Brooksby Melton College in Leicestershire to meet the mother of a young man who died in a car crash, and to see a very effective crash simulator in action. Run by Paul Speight from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, the initiative hammers home to youngsters just how dangerous driving can be, by showing them horrific footage of accidents and then using smoke, blue lights, loud noises and clever hydraulics to mimic being in an accident. The message from Leicestershire Police focusses on what they call the ‘FATAL4’ causes of road accidents involving young drivers: drink and drugs, speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and using a mobile phone.

250914tyresafe1 copyright Red Marlin and TyreSafe

Photo © Red Marlin / TyreSafe

According to the RAC, 234 teens in 2013 were killed or seriously injured in crashes where young drivers were at the wheel, and the figure for injuries caused by young drivers was a staggering 2,144. The mother of one young man who died when he crashed his car on a rural road believes that lack of experience is a key factor in accidents. At his sister’s school, over half of the six formers drive or get lifts and she admits that driving is a big responsibility and rightly says that rural roads are not safer just because fewer vehicles tend to use them, one second being enough to change a person’s whole life.

On Thursday, BBC’s John Maguire was again covering road safety for young drivers and was shown a car fresh out of an accident, by Gloucestershire Police. It’s fair to say that the car was a mangled mess. Twenty percent of all new drivers crash within six months of passing their test, John revealed, and accident victims tweeted photos to him @JohnMag20. Others voiced their views, from parents being at fault for seeking cheap driving lessons rather than paying for quality, young drivers being restricted from driving powerful cars for one year after they pass their tests, parents again attracting blame for giving their teenagers a bad example, and extra tuition being muted as a positive step in reducing road deaths. A couple of people even said that driving instructors are under pressure to pass students after the lowest number of lessons possible, in order to reach targets.


Photo © Ford Driving Skills For Life

Currently, four teens are killed or seriously injured every week, but as pointed out by the Sunday Times’ Driving website, you can get behind the wheel of a car before you reach 17 by visiting a specialist centre such as MotorSport Vision who run YoungDrive! courses around the country, or Young Driver Training, another national initiative backed by the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

Please remember that although driving is often very enjoyable, it can also be extremely dangerous and one bad decision or a single momentary distraction could cost you or others your lives. If you need to make an important call or send a text, park up safely first. If you’re travelling in a group, focus on the road ahead and not your passengers. Take extra care on country roads, which are full of hazards from animals and tractors to other motorists and sharp bends. Keep your distance on the motorway, take corners at sensible speeds and slow down if it’s wet.

If you have any additional suggestions on how to make motoring safer for young or inexperienced drivers, we’d love to hear from you on Twitter or Facebook.

Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.