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Young Drivers - Are they really a menace?

25 July 2006

Motorway Service Area operator Moto, in partnership with Driving School BSM, launched a competition to find Britain’s safest young driver, and to raise awareness of safe driving practices. Highways Agency statistics show that young people aged 17-25 are much more likely to be involved in accidents than older drivers. 17-25 year olds account for just 10% of license holders, but are involved in more than 20% of accidents.

Learner drivers have very few accidents as they are under close supervision, but once they have passed their test their chances of having an accident increase dramatically.

  • 1 in 5 drivers crash in their first year of driving
  • An 18 year old driver is more than three times more likely to be involved in a crash than a 48 year old
  • Young drivers are more likely to be involved in high speed crashes, single vehicle crashes due to loss of control, crashes in the dark and crashes when overtaking or negotiating bends

The 25 youngsters all won through to the final of Smrt2Drv (Smart To Drive) – a competition aimed at making young drivers think about the skills they need to survive on the roads, especially motorways – which was held at the top secret MIRA Proving Ground in Warwickshire on Saturday 15 July.

Under the watchful eyes of BSM instructors, the finalists were called upon to demonstrate their skills in a series of activities that tested their ability to control a car in both wet and dry conditions, how they reacted to other road users at speed and how well they could manoeuvre in confined spaces.

BSM director Mykay Kamara said, “I was very impressed with the standard of driving demonstrated by the 17-25 year olds we have seen today. Most were consistently good in all the tests we put them through, and had a very good awareness of hazards and other drivers on the road.

Statistically, young drivers are the most likely to have an accident, but continuing to develop their skills with additional lessons from BSM can help them master driving on motorways and other more advanced techniques which could help keep them safe”

The overall winner was 25 year-old Cally Bristow, of West End, Garthorpe, Scunthorpe, who won a new Daihatsu Sirion 1.3SE. She said: “It was a fantastic competition and I’m delighted to have won. The standard of driving among the finalists was very high, even though most of us haven’t been driving for that long and the tests were very demanding.

“I think it’s very important that young drivers take the time to learn the skills that will help keep them alive on the roads. There’s a great temptation to pass your test and get out there thinking you know it all – and you don’t.”

Each of the finalists also had the chance to ride in a high-powered Honda sports car with a professional test driver who showed them what happens to a car under harsh acceleration and fierce braking.

Moto’s CEO Tim Moss said: “Even though some of the finalists had only been driving for a few months, the standard of skills they displayed was impressively high.

“As the biggest motorway service area operator in Britain, we are always looking for ways in which can help our customers improve their driving skills and therefore came up with Smrt2Drv as an ideal way of getting a very vulnerable group of road users to think about the skills they need to help keep them safe on our busy roads.”

More than 1,000 under-25 year-olds entered the competition by answering a series of questions on-line in an examination of knowledge similar to the Department of Transport’s theory test for learner drivers.

Official figures show that one in 10 drivers on the road today is under the age of 25 – but one in four of all drivers killed is in this age group. On average, two drivers under the age of 25 are killed on the roads every day.

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