Call for action as rural danger of younger drivers highlighted

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Young drivers in rural areas are much more likely to be involved in accidents than in urban areas, a new study has revealed.

Younger motorists in the countryside are said to be 37 per cent more likely to be involved in an injury collision than their urban counterparts.

Areas in Mansfield, the Rother Valley, North Lincolnshire and the Ribble Valley were named as being those with the highest risk rate among young drivers according to the study, produced by Road Safety Analysis.

Called Young Drivers, Road Risks and Rurality, it compares the risk of collision involvement each year by local authority area, showing the risk rates for young drivers.

Nationally, young drivers are already more likely to be involved in a crash, with 30 per cent of all drivers in collisions aged from 16 to 29. Yet this age group only makes up 18 per cent of the population.

This report calculates that young rural drivers are two-thirds more likely to be involved in an injury collision than older ones.

And it suggests rural local authorities and police forces need to pay special attention to the situation.

Dan Campsall, director of Road Safety Analysis, said: “Younger drivers from rural areas are much more likely to be involved in a crash where someone is injured.

“We need to see a package of measures developed that can bring about a change.

“This may require investment in transport infrastructure, community bus schemes and further driver training to affect the inequality that these drivers are experiencing.”

With better information, local authorities could develop a much better understanding of the risks to rural residents and road users.

One of the biggest factors in the elevated risk profile is the much higher average annual mileage driven by drivers in rural areas.

These motorists drive 31 per cent more miles than their urban counterparts.

The report also considers the level of deprivation and whether this is a factor in young driver crashes.

This was not found to be the case in rural areas, although it is something seen in large town and cities.

The report is published in the same week that it was revealed that the number of drivers over the age of 80 has now topped one million.

According to information obtained by the Institute of Advanced Motorists showed that there are now 1,012,399 drivers over 80. There are also 122 licence holders over the age of 100, including three 105-year-olds and one 106-year-old woman.

The age gap between the youngest driving licence holder and the oldest is 90 years.

However the IAM said that contrary to common assumptions, drivers in their eighties are not dangerous and said figures show that they are in fact much safer than their more youthful counterparts.

The rate of deaths and serious injuries in crashes among drivers over 80 is three times less than the rate for those aged 17-19.

In 2010 almost one young driver aged 17-19 was killed or seriously injured per thousand licence holders.

The rate of deaths and serious injuries in crashes among car drivers aged 20 to 24 is 36.4 per cent more than the rate for drivers aged 80 or over.

However, drivers over the age of 80 are more likely to suffer serious injuries in a car crash owing to their frailty.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Older people need their cars which give them better mobility and access to more activities and services.

“Those who wish to continue driving beyond the age of 70 should only be prevented from doing so if there are compelling reasons.

“Rather than seeking to prevent older people from driving, we should make them more aware of the risks they face, and offer them driving assessments to help them eliminate bad habits.

“Driving helps older people play a full and active part in society.”