Young drivers

Title: Children and young people - rural road safety

Organisation: Department for Infrastructure (NI)
Date uploaded: 7th March 2012
Date published/launched: June 2011

This research investigated the causes and influencing factors of rural casualties and collisions involving children and young people and recommended appropriate action measures.

This research study was commissioned by the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland to review a number of aspects of rural road collisions involving children and young people aged 0-24 years, and to make recommendations on any intervention actions that may be justified by the research.

The key parts of the study involved separate quantitative and qualitative analyses. The quantitative analysis was conducted first to inform the scope and form of the qualitative work to follow. The quantitative analysis involved a detailed review of road collision data for the 10-year period 20002009 provided by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The qualitative work which followed comprised eight focus groups.

The collision data review sought to identify the likely causes, influencing factors and any common trends, patterns and characteristics of rural casualties and collisions involving children and young people. In addition, work was undertaken to determine whether rural collisions are caused by drivers resident within or outside the area of the collision.

The key findings from the collision data review were related to car drivers (aged 17-24 years) and vehicle passengers of all ages (0-24 years). Casualty rates for drivers and passengers peak at the age of 19 with the highest rates experienced on rural non built-up roads.

For younger passengers in cars there was evidence that children up to the age of 11 tended to wear seatbelts and were seated in the rear of the car but that as children move on to secondary school, seatbelt wearing becomes less prevalent and there is more travel in the front seat.

The review of current interventions highlights a number of interventions which are in place mostly relating to pre-driver education and publicity. These can be effective in shaping the attitudes and behaviour of younger children but less so for young adults who reported they were not particularly interested in the DoE publicity and advertisements and did not watch them. In terms of casualty reduction it does seem that publicity which seeks to change attitude is unlikely to be successful in achieving a step change in the high casualty rates experienced by young adults as drivers and passengers.

More robust interventions will be required to produce such a step change and it is recommended that these could include raising the driving age (either directly or indirectly), introducing a new system of graduated licensing which might involve imposing some restrictions on young drivers, for example, driving at night or travelling with similar aged partners for a period following passing the driving test.

A more stringent driving test could be introduced. These and other interventions are being consulted on now in Northern Ireland and it recommended that the responses to this are considered in the light of this report.

For more information contact:
Colin Buchanan
T: 0131 226 4693

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