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Young drivers unable to avoid crashes with vulnerable road users  Back

A report released by IAM RoadSmart and TRL has found that young drivers are failing to avoid crashes with vulnerable road users quick enough.

The report discovered that while young drivers learn quickly how to avoid single vehicle loss of control related collisions, it takes them a lot longer to learn how to deal with vulnerable road users, be safe on the motorway and safely complete low speed manoeuvres.

The report, entitled ‘Young Novice Driver Collision Types’ made several recommendations of ways to improve new driver training, with particular reference to hazard perception around vulnerable road users and other vehicles.

The report highlights the importance for young drivers to gain plenty of experience within a wide variety of traffic situations. For example, in their first year on the road, experts suggest an average 17-year-old driver can expect their risk of being involved in a crash to be reduced by 36% as a result of driving experience. This is 30% higher than the 6% drop due to the ageing and maturity of a driver.

The report identifies which aspects of driving are learned the quickest and which take more time, and it concludes that the skills that young drivers struggle to take in and the ones which could bring the largest benefits to road safety.

Below are a list of the factors which led to a higher rate of crashes amongst younger people:

  • Inexperience and poor judgement in more difficult driving conditions (poor weather, poor visibility, minor rural roads)
  • Inadequate control of the car (single vehicle accidents, skidding, overturning, leaving the road)
  • Lifestyle factors (social driving particularly at night and at weekends, when factors such as alcohol and peer pressure affect where and how young people drive)
  • Economic factors which result in young drivers being more likely to have cheaper older cars which offer them less protection from injury than newer cars would do

Some additional findings from the report concluded that:

  • Travel behaviour has changed with 17-20 year olds driving less and walking or cycling more
  • Those aged 21-29 years travel further than 17-20 year olds each year, with largely employment related journeys
  • The collision rate for drivers aged 17-20 years declined more quickly than the rate for 21-29 year olds between 2002 and 2015
  • Compared with the overall rate of learning, young drivers learn more quickly to avoid crashes involving a single vehicle, loss of control, on a B roads, at night or where the vehicle leaves the carriageway
  • Possibly related to these crash types, young drivers also learn more rapidly to avoid contributory factors such as speeding, driving too fast for the conditions, swerving, loss of control, inexperienced and anxious
  • The trend for crashes on motorways is unique and initially increases before demonstrating a possible delayed learning curve. Results also suggest that learning to safely use slip roads take longer than the general learning rate
  • New drivers also appear to be slow at learning to avoid collisions in certain conflict scenarios in slow manoeuvring situations and with vulnerable road users. This might be indicative of poor hazard perception skills

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said: “It is really useful to learn more about how young drivers are gaining the experience they need to have a safe driving career.

“However, analysing the results, it is vital that government, road safety bodies and the driver instruction industry work together to generate new strategies to target those skills that are not being learned at the fastest rate.

“It also shows that in the formative years of driving, there is clearly a need for post-test training to continue, to build experience that can reduce the number of needless tragedies on our roads.”

Posted by Leana Kell on 19/01/2018