The stereotypical teen driver is a 17-year-old male who has just passed his test. His parents have enough money to get him his own car. He piles it full of his mates on a Saturday night, drink or drugs may be added to the mix and a tragedy occurs which shatters many young lives and may affect other road users. It is every parent’s nightmare but happens on UK roads every day. This is a stereotypical view and we all know that stereotypes can be both unfair and damaging. However, in this case, there are some statistics to back it up.
Why you would trust your Mum but not your son in a Porsche
Accident statistics is an area where both gender and age is a decisive factor. A perfect birthday gift for your Mum’s 50th birthday would be a weekend supercar hire perhaps combined with a weekend away in a luxury country hotel. She would appreciate the latest and most sought-after prestige and performance cars in the market and, statistically, is likely to return it at the end of the weekend with both the car and herself unscathed. Sadly, the same cannot be said for teen boys.
The accident statistics for the UK are clear. Drivers aged between 17-19 only make up 1.5% of UK driving licence holders but are the driver in 9% of fatal and serious crashes. It is also true that young male drivers are involved in many more crashes than young female drivers.
Why do young drivers get involved in accidents?
Sadly, there is a unique combination of lifestyle choice, biology, and psychology that makes young drivers more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident.
Looking at lifestyle choice, teen drivers are most at risk when they are carrying passengers of their own age. A young driver carrying young passengers is four times more likely to crash their car than if they are travelling alone but a staggering 62% less likely when they are carrying an older adult passenger. The ideal scenario for a young person is to have their mates and not you in the car and this is exactly what puts them at such a high risk. The reasons for this are not fully understood but it is probably associated with distraction and attempts to impress their peers.
All drivers are more likely to have a crash during the night than during the day. Unfortunately, night driving is favoured by teens and so this puts them in the high-risk category. Between the hours of 2 am and 5 am in the UK, male drivers aged 17-20 are 17 times more likely to crash than other male drivers.
In terms of biology and psychology, the frontal lobe of teens is not fully developed and this influences decision making and risk taking. Teens, therefore, find it harder to control impulses and emotions and assess risks and this is why they indulge in risky behaviour.
The challenge facing road safety experts is a difficult one and will not be fixed overnight. It is likely that a multi-faceted approach will be required including changes to driving regulations, voluntary codes and education.