Recent figures show that almost 20% of all recorded accidents in the UK alone each year involve young driver error. And not only is that the result of much heartache and sorrow for the families involved, it’s also having an extreme effect on insurance premiums. It’s believed premiums for 17-20 year old drivers have risen by an average of 68% over the past year; some annual quotes have been recorded as running into tens of thousands.
Of course, it’s unfair to tar all young drivers with the same brush, but the facts seem to suggest that the younger the person taking to the road, the more likelihood there is they’ll have an accident. So, why is this? Well, let’s take a look at some of the main causes.
Overconfidence and inexperience
With youth comes a certain natural confidence. Combined with a car the results can be disastrous. Young drivers are more likely to take risks (e.g. when cornering, overtaking or pulling out of junctions). But the flipside is, they don’t have the experience to know what to do instinctively in a pressure situation – unlike older drivers.
Driving at night or in the early hours
Learning to drive and having a car when you’re young means suddenly unlocking a world of possibilities. No more hanging about waiting for night buses or taxis you can barely afford. You can now take off into the night. Of course, the downside is driving at night is when more accidents happen – it’s harder to see and anticipate hazards. Plus once you’re beyond midnight, you get tired and your reactions start to decrease further.
Distractions in the car
Linked to the above is the fact that many young people are effectively the taxi-driver for their mates when they have a car. That means a whole bunch of people talking, laughing, usually playing loud music, sometimes smoking or – worse still – drinking too. All of it can be massively distracting to the driver. Then there’s peer pressure – a young driver can easily decide it’s a good idea to show off by speeding or overtaking dangerously.
Drinking and drugs
Lastly, it’s sad to admit that some young drivers think they won’t be overtly affected by taking drink and drugs, then getting behind the wheel – particularly drugs. Some think a few puffs on a joint won’t make a difference. It does. It’s illegal. And any drug use while driving can lead to fatal situations.
Angus Trapton is an accident lawyer and wrote this article to highlight the dangers that driving can cause. Too many people die each year on our roads and a better understanding and education can save lives.