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Why are young people more at risk of car accidents?

Estimated read time: 3 mins

Carrie Tennick, August 09, 2019

We all know that younger drivers are more at risk of car accidents than older motorists. But why? Is it purely down to inexperience? Or do other factors have an impact? And exactly how much more likely are young people to be involved in a car accident?

How young people are over-represented in accidents

The government’s Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2017 Annual Report – the most recent report – found that road users aged 17 to 24 accounted for 32,810 of 170,993 casualties on UK roads. This represents almost 20% of all accidents where someone was killed or injured. Car occupants made up roughly 12,796 of those casualties.

Some 16% of road deaths were younger people in 2017. This group was found to hold 2,773,071 driving licences in November 2017. This is compared to 31% of road deaths occurring to those aged 60 and older, a group that held 11,566,748 driving licences in November 2017.

When the older group holds four times as many licences, but only has twice as many fatal accidents, it shows exactly how over-represented young people in road accidents.

According to the AA, young drivers are at higher risk in the early hours of the morning. The organisation explained that per mile driven, a young male driver is five times more likely to have an accident than his father.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has said that although males drivers aged 17-20 are seven times more likely to be involved in a collision than all male motorists, the risk rises to 17 times higher between the hours of 2am and 5am.

Why do the young have more accidents?

The AA found that the accident risk for young male drivers is far lower in the early evening than in the early hours of the morning. This suggests that the problem is down to the way they drive at night, not just a lack of experience driving in the dark, according to the association.

Drink-driving is also a concern for younger drivers.

According to the government’s most recent confirmed statistics, 2016 saw 2,030 casualties in drink-drive accidents involving car occupants aged 16 to 24. This is compared to 5,600 accidents for the same group of road users aged 25 to 59, an age group more than four times the size.

Overconfidence is another factor meaning younger people are more likely to have a car accident. A study by the Delft University of Technology found that new drivers tend to overestimate their driving skills more than experienced drivers.

The study author found that these overconfident drivers typically reported more “violating behaviours and less instances of adaptation of driving speed to the complexity of traffic situations”, therefore making them more dangerous.

Distraction by car passengers and showing off to these companions has also been highlighted as a reason for younger people getting into more accidents.

How can young drivers stay safe?

Road safety charity Brake has suggested that the authorities introduce graduated driving licences. This would impose restrictions on newly qualified drivers, such as prohibiting night driving and carrying passengers. By eliminating these hazards, younger drivers could build up the experience they need to stay safe on the roads.

Meanwhile, better public transport could also prevent as many young people feeling like they need their own vehicle to get around.

If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, you’ll likely be looking for justice. First4Lawyers can help you make a claim for compensation that could help you get back on your feet or behind the wheel.

All you need to do is give us a call, request a call back at the top of your screen or start your claim here.