A survey has uncovered ‘disturbing evidence’ of young drivers’ safety record on rural roads.
Evidence shows that young rural drivers are nearly twice as likely (44 per cent) to be involved in a collision compared with young urban drivers.
Government proposals to curb the excesses of newly-qualified young drivers have received surprise backing – from young drivers themselves.
Research reveals that four in 10 drivers aged 17-25 would welcome mandatory motorway driving lessons, with a similar number backing night-time motorway lessons and breath-alcohol ignition locks, as outlined in the Department for Transport’s Green Paper on improving safety for young drivers.
Not surprisingly, they are two thirds (68 per cent) more likely to be involved in a collision on a 60mph road than urbanites, with 41 per cent admitting they are more likely to drive faster on rural roads.
“It is not the fact that rural roads are inherently more dangerous than urban roads,” said Darren Lindsey, head of government affairs at Michelin. “The fact is that young rural drivers are more likely to crash, either because they feel more confident driving at speeds, negotiating bends or driving on unlit roads.
“This isn’t to say that rural drivers are necessarily ‘worse’ at driving, but a mix of confidence and increased risk – with higher speeds, darker roads and unseen hazards – are generally more common on rural roads leading to increased risk of collision.”
Michelin says young rural drivers are two-thirds (68 per cent) more likely to be in a collision on a road with a 60mph limit, than urban dwellers.
“More than a third (39 per cent) of young rural drivers admitted to having had an accident or near miss, with one in five taking place in the first year of driving,” said Lindsey. “There is an urgent case for greater education and awareness among young drivers, especially those in rural areas.
In light of the government’s recent green paper on young drivers, the report provides a compelling case for some of the recommendations.”
Speeding on rural roads is highlighted by a survey of 700 young drivers
contained in the report, “Too much, too young, too fast.” Four in ten admitted they were more likely to drive faster on rural roads, with drivers who live in rural areas apparently lulled into a false sense of security, admitting that they drove faster ‘because the roads are quieter.”
Thirty per cent of young rural drivers claimed to know the road “like the back of their hand” and 26 per cent admitted they drove faster because there was less chance of being caught.
Young drivers were less keen on some green paper proposals, however. Only 14 per cent backed a year’s minimum learning period before being able to apply for a driving test and only one in 10 backed night time driving curfews for the first year after passing the test.