How Safe Are Young Drivers? [Statistics]

More help for you

They may be fresh from completing their theory and practical test, but young drivers are still statistically likelier to get into an accident than older motorists.

According to the Brake charity, just 1.5% of drivers on British roads are aged between 17 and 19, yet they are behind the wheel for 9% of accidents which cause fatalities or serious injuries.

The latest research also suggests that newly qualified drivers under the age of 19 are 33% likelier to lose their lives in a collision than a motorist in their 40s -- with young men particularly susceptible to crashes compared to women of a similar age.

Even though these statistics may seem gloomy, it is worth noting that fewer than one in four motorists crash within the first two years of obtaining their licence -- and many of these incidents are thankfully minor ones. In this article, we’re going to explore the reasons why inexperienced drivers pose a higher risk to themselves and everyone else, meaning they end up paying astronomical fees for car insurance. Plus, we’ll offer solutions to ensure that you’re among the 75% of newly qualified motorists who avoid bumps and scrapes.

4 Reasons Why Young Drivers Crash

  1. 1

    Teenagers Are More Likely to Take Risks

    Although they are mature enough to drive, neurological research suggests that 17 and 18-year-olds still have a few years to go before their ability to rationally assess risk is fully developed. This means they may regard driving without wearing a seat belt, being in control of a vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, and driving well beyond the speed limit as lower-risk activities than someone who has more experience behind the wheel.

  2. 2

    They’re on Their Mobile Phones

    Despite repeated campaigns warning motorists about the dangers of using handheld devices behind the wheel, seven in 10 new motorists recently admitted to texting behind the wheel in a survey. Worse still, one in five send messages while on the move at least once a month -- even though a few seconds of distraction can have catastrophic consequences.

    texting and driving
    Using mobile phone while driving can disqualify you as a driver

    In-car technology makes it easier to make calls and receive messages simply by using your voice, but even this may mean that you’re not paying as much attention to the road ahead as you should be. Tougher penalties for those caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel -- six penalty points -- are certainly likely to send rates of text-driving tumbling, not least because this would result in an instant disqualification for a new driver. However, some motorists naively have the attitude that they’ll never be caught, which brings us neatly to the next downfall of young drivers: complacency.

  3. 3

    Passing Your Test Can Make You Feel Overconfident

    Although there’s no disputing that you are qualified to drive upon passing your theory and practical test, there is still so much to learn about how the roads work -- and this is gently amassed through years of experience.

    confident teens
    Overconfidence and lack of experience provoke bad decisions on the road

    Many of those who crash think that they have completely mastered every technique associated with driving, even though there might be a considerable gap between their own estimation of their abilities and their actual competency.

  4. 4

    Weak Hazard Perception Skills

    It can be quite daunting to think that you’ll receive a pink licence after answering just 15 questions where you’re expected to identify hazards with immediacy -- and maybe an hour or so of driving under the supervision of an instructor for any faults.

    Although you don’t want to be a nervous wreck while you’re out on the roads, you should always err on the side of caution and slow down when you spot a danger ahead so you can take evasive action with greater ease.

The Good News

Generally, young drivers are getting safer. This is through advanced features in modern cars, such as parking sensors, which allow them to complete manoeuvres without incident. Plus, technology such as black boxes give new motorists an incentive to engage in low-risk behaviours because they’re going to receive lower premiums in return.

Theory tests have also become tougher over recent years, and if you look at pass rates over the past decade, you’ll notice that fewer people are making the cut on their first attempt.

mock test
Mock tests at toptests.co.uk help you breeze through the tough theory test

The practice of holding learner drivers to a higher standard is having a positive effect on their performance when they’re unleashed on the roads.

Bearing in mind the pitfalls that many younger drivers end up falling into once they’ve passed their test and purchased a car, and aiming for as high a pass mark on your theory test as possible by answering mock questions, will go a long way to ensuring that you’re a responsible motorist.

According to the AA, almost one in three young people say they feel unsafe when they’re being driven in a friend’s car.

Make sure you’re in the majority rather than the minority.

100% of people found this article helpful.
Click a star to add your vote
2 votes - average 5 out of 5
100% of people told us that this article helped them.

How good of a driver are you?

An expert behind the wheel or danger to the road?

Take a free quiz