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Young drivers are at risk on our roads

Drivers aged between 17 and 25 are more likely to be in an accident.

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  • Inexperience kills

  • Tougher penalties

  • Safety first

  • Further training

The best way to start driving is safely

Too many fatal road accidents involve young drivers – especially in the first year after passing their test.
That’s why it’s so important to have the right attitude towards driving, right from the start. Which means always thinking about safety and taking the development of your driving skills seriously.

What you need to know

  • 1 in 5 new drivers will be in a collision within a year after passing their test
  • Inexperience and a risky attitude are part of the problem
  • There are ways young drivers can stay safe
  • The penalties for young drivers are tough
  • Advanced training can really improve skills

A closer look at young drivers

Drivers aged between 17 and 25 – especially men – tend to be overconfident and more likely to drive in risky ways. This is usually by driving too fast, too close to someone in front or overtaking dangerously.

This means younger drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents – and also be at fault.

What's causing the problem?

Inexperience

A lack of driving experience is one of the main reasons so many young people have accidents on Scotland’s roads. Collisions usually happen when driving with friends in the car, at night, or on country roads.

A risky attitude

This can make drivers overconfident in their driving abilities. Added peer pressure can also increase the chance of poor judgement when overtaking, or driving fast on country roads.

Underdeveloped skills

A young driver may have good reactions, but other skills like hazard perception take time to learn. Spotting a hazard while there’s still time to take evasive action, only comes through experience.

A lack of awareness

Visual awareness in young drivers is often lacking – including checking mirrors less. In time, they’ll be more likely to drive in an attentive, careful, responsible and safe manner.

Brain development

Studies show the prefrontal cortex of the human brain, which regulates impulsive behaviour, doesn’t reach full maturity until adults are at least in their mid-twenties.
The studies also show increased limbic activity, meaning that young people are more likely to be influenced by their friends and indulge in thrill-seeking behaviour.

Areas where young drivers are most likely to be involved in accidents:

Helping younger drivers to stay safe

A parent/young driver agreement can potentially help. This can simply be a set of verbal or written promises between a parent and young driver for a few months after passing their test.
For example, a young driver might agree to:

  • Not drive between certain times at night i.e. midnight and 6am
  • A maximum number of people in the car (which might vary according to the time of the day)
  • A zero alcohol limit when driving
  • A zero drug limit when driving
  • Not use a mobile phone while driving
  • Keep within the speed limit
  • Wear a seat belt at all times
  • Black Box technology being fitted in the car

In return, a parent might agree to:

  • Make a car available
  • Collect them after a certain time, so they don’t drive home late at night

Don’t risk losing your licence

As a young driver, there are tougher penalties in place by law – covering the first two years after you pass your test.
If you pick up 6 points or more in that time, as well as a potential fine, your licence will be put back to provisional status.
That means you’ll have to re-sit and pass the theory and practical tests all over again. Here are just some of the ways you can lose your licence:

  • Getting caught speeding twice
  • Using a mobile phone while driving
  • Not having car insurance

Since 25 March 2022, it is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel for virtually any use, including taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists or playing games. If you use a handheld phone behind the wheel, you can get a fine of up to £1,000, 6 points on your licence, and a driving ban.

Take your driving skills to another level

Additional driver training really can help to improve your skills.

As well as enhancing basic abilities and vehicle control, it can also help you deal better with hazards.

Important new rules

  • There’s now a new hierarchy of road users
  • Those who can do the most harm have the greatest responsibility
  • Drivers and riders have to give way to pedestrians crossing a road
  • Pedestrians and cyclists have priority when turning in and out of junctions
  • Drivers and riders need to give plenty of space when passing others. At least:
    • 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at up to 30mph
    • 2 metres and under 10mph for horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles
    • 2 metres and a low speed when passing pedestrians walking on a road
  • Cyclists can ride in the centre of the lane, or two side-by-side for their own safety
  • In a vehicle, the door should be opened with the hand furthest from the door, helping to make drivers look over their shoulder to see cyclists or pedestrians nearby
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