In 2011, 148 young people died on Britain’s roads, accounting for 22% of the total number of road fatalities in that year. A shocking statistic, but why is this case?
Surely, after all of the studying and practice that goes into passing your driving test, young drivers should know their Highway Code and safety precautions better than anyone?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to Robin Cunmmins, road safety consultant at BSM, it is often a young driver’s “attitude rather than their skills which causes road collisions,” and this opinion has a scientific basis in fact
In a recent study by the NIH (National Institute of Health in the USA) brain scans of young people were monitored over time and the results found young people go through a ‘re-wiring’ process in the brain, between the ages of 12 and 25. Our ability to carry out complex thought processes, like calculating risk, is still being developed around the time that many young people pass their driving test. And these scientific conclusions could go in some way to explaining how a young driver may undertake comparitively more risky manoeuvres on our roads.
But how can we protect our young drivers’ safety on the roads by improving their attitude to risk?
Always Wear Your Seatbelt
Failing to wear your seatbelt during your driving test will get you an instant fail, but once your pink driving licence has popped through the letterbox it is surprising how quickly this lesson goes out the window for some teenagers who want to show off to their mates. (Yes, really. Impressing friends in this frankly childish way still appeals to a small minority of young drivers). That’s why the EU requires you and all passengers to wear a seatbelt or face a fine – and for repeat offenders, points on your licence.
Turn Off Distractions
With the rise of mobile technology over the last few years, it has become more difficult than ever for young people to tear their eyes away from screens. Young people may think they are brilliant multi-taskers, but young drivers really need to make the effort to concentrate solely on the road when they are driving. Despite the fact that you may be able to touch-type without looking, it only takes a momentary lapse of concentration to end up in a serious accident. Plus, using a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel is illegal. Phones should be ignored completely, even if you have a hands-free kit, and music should be kept to a low volume, or not listened to at all – to improve your concentration even further.
Don’t Accept Passengers
Passengers are another form of distraction and are sources of peer pressure that can make a young, inexperienced driver take more risks than they are comfortable with. That’s why it is important to keep passenger numbers to a minimum, at least until you are comfortable and experienced enough to drive well on your own.
It’s also advisable not to offer to take your friends on a road trip to a faraway place just after you’ve passed your test. This may not make you popular, but surely it has got to be better than running the risk of getting into an accident that may leave you or your best friend paralysed, or worse.
Do a Pass Plus Test
After spending all that time and effort preparing and practicing for a driving test, many young people don’t see the point of signing themselves up for more of the same training. But taking a Pass Plus Test will increase your skillset in driving and boost your confidence on the road in double-quick time.
Having a Pass Plus Certificate can also lower your insurance premiums as well as lowering your chances of being in an accident and getting sued for road accident compensation by other road users. So it is definitely worth the initial spend on tuition as you’ll see the savings later.
Driving is a big responsibility that requires a mature, clear head. By ensuring that young drivers have the right attitude and knowledge of safety precautions, good driving habits can be established from the start and many more deaths on our roads can be prevented.
If you have any other tips for young drivers, please leave a comment below.
Tim Wozinek is a blogger and travel enthusiast from London. He remembers the excitement of passing his driving test all those years ago and writes for The Accident Specialists.
Article Image by State Farm