Improving road safety: Young Drivers
In the UK, 490,000 drivers pass their test each year. It is still a significant rite of passage for many young people. However, it is also often a time when young drivers are at their most vulnerable.
Our data shows that accident rates among young drivers spike during their first year of driving, with one in four young drivers crashing in this time. Young drivers are also hugely over-represented in the most serious accidents. Drivers aged 17 to 19 are involved in 12% of all fatal crashes, despite representing only 1.5% of drivers on the road. The impact on them, their passengers, their families and other road users can last a lifetime and has a huge effect on society generally.
There are various reasons why young drivers crash. These include over-confidence, a natural human urge to test personal boundaries and take risks, and hidden hazards. Using road-safety data and our knowledge of driver behaviour collected through telematics, we’ve identified contextual speed as a significant cause of fatal crashes involving young drivers.
New drivers only tend to fine-tune their decision-making when they no longer have an instructor in the car. In particular, deciding how fast they should or can go relies on experience of road conditions and predicting how other road users behave.
Young drivers' first 1,000 miles are key. This is when the gap between perceived and actual driving competence, and hence risk, is greatest. So we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of cutting deaths in the first 1,000 miles to zero.
The biggest barrier to addressing this issue is that young drivers may feel immune to the risks. Our goal of inspiring a generation of safe careful drivers sits at odds with many of their motivations. They are pro-risk (although less than previous generations), competitive and relish the freedom of being a new driver. They may believe that most people drive faster than the speed limit and that good driving means travelling as fast as you can. To change behaviour, we have to change this perspective.
We believe talking at young people or trying to shock them does not work. To engage them we need to find a way to add to their driving experience. So we are looking to use our telematics technology to produce a smartphone app. We will support this with a communication and reward campaign that leverages peer pressure. It will also engage young drivers by making road safety conversations more relevant to them. If successful, we aim to make the app available to all newly-qualified young drivers in the UK