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Road Safety Week 21-27 November 2011
As Road Safety Week 2011 launches, road traffic collisions experts at Fentons Solicitors LLP are backing calls to raise awareness about the terrible impact of road crashes, and the part we can all play in making our roads safer for everyone.
Coordinated annually by the road safety charity Brake, Road Safety Week 2011 - whose theme this year is 'Too Young to Die' - aims to educate young drivers about steps they can take to be safer and raise awareness amongst young people, drivers of all ages, parents, policy makers and the wider community, that road crashes are ending too many young lives too soon.
Joanna Bailey, a spokesperson for Brake and a partner with the firm said: "Young drivers are involved in a huge proportion of serious crashes on our roads with too many of them crashing in their first year of driving. So many of these incidents and the devastating effects on families are preventable and often the result of driving too fast or overtaking dangerously, driving while using a mobile, driving on drink, drugs or while tired, or failing to wear a seatbelt.”
The 'Too Young to Die' theme was chosen by Brake after they conducted a survey of over 8000 people in the UK which revealed a worrying 56% had feared for their lives as a passenger with a young driver and 57% had admitted to having been endangered by risk-taking friends and peers who had either been speeding or driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.
“Male drivers under the age of 25 in the UK have the highest incidence of failing a breath test after being involved in a road crash in which someone was injured,” said Joanna. “Any amount of alcohol or drugs can affect a person’s ability to drive safely as reaction times and the ability to judge speeds and distances accurately are both impaired. Alcohol and drugs combined with a lack of driving experience or a failure to wear a seatbelt can make for a truly terrifying combination.
“These results show that too many young drivers are over-confident about their abilities behind the wheel,” added Joanna. “Young male drivers are especially prone to thrill-seeking and taking risks such as driving too fast and cornering at speed. Those aged 17-20 are seven times more likely to cause serious crashes than their older counterparts, particularly when friends are present as passengers or if they are driving at night between the hours of 2 and 5am when their crash rates are 17 times higher.”
While young drivers make up just one in eight licence holders, they are involved in one in every four crashes that result in either death or serious injury.Across the UK, young people age 15-24 are more likely to die in a preventable, violent road crash than from any other cause.
“Every 18 hours in the UK, another young person loses their life on our roads - this is unacceptable,” said Joanna. “For each and every one of these deaths, a family is left behind, devastated and having to cope with the sudden shock and trauma of another young life needlessly lost. In addition, every hour-and-a-half, a young person is seriously injured - often suffering life-changing injuries involving brain damage, paralysis or the loss of one or more limbs.
“Despite the number of young people evidently being put at risk by their friends and peers,” added Joanna, “it is heartening that the vast majority of those surveyed also admit that they would support extra regulation for new drivers including at least one type of licence restriction such as a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit or tougher penalties for those who flout the law.”
Road safety campaigners such as Brake want the system for training, testing and licensing new drivers reformed and the introduction of ‘graduated driver licensing’ to enable new drivers to develop their skills and experience over time while limiting their exposure to dangerous situations.
“It is crucial the government do more to tackle the alarming number of needless deaths and devastating injuries resulting from young driver crashes,” said Joanna. “Graduated driver licensing – which has been shown to reduce casualty numbers in New Zealand, Australia and some US states - includes minimum time periods for learning to drive and restrictions such as curfews, zero-tolerance drink-drive limits and a ban on carrying young passengers, all of which are designed to protect young drivers from new and potentially dangerous situations.
“Road Safety Week 2011 will hopefully help to instil a greater sense of responsibility in young drivers to ensure the safety of themselves, their passengers and others,” added Joanna. “It is crucial young drivers acknowledge that every time they get behind the wheel they have people’s lives in their hands, and they must, as a result, commit to staying within speed limits, never drinking alcohol or taking drugs before driving and always belting up and ensuring any passengers they may have are belted up too.”
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