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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 October 2005, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
Warning over young male drivers
Steering wheel
The trust said young men needed more experience behind the wheel
Some young men show an "alarming disregard" for safety when driving at night, a new report has suggested.

The AA Motoring Trust said many tested their cars to the limit, others drove while drunk and some believed it was safer to speed in the dark.

"This study identifies a dangerous minority of thrill-seeking young male drivers," the trust said.

It said male drivers aged 17-20 had 17 times the risk of accidents between 0200 and 0500 than all male drivers.

During these hours around 225 of 17- to 20-year-old male drivers were killed or seriously injured annually.

At the same time of day, men aged 21-25 had twice the risk of all male drivers.

There's nobody coming the other way, you'd be able to see the lights
Young male driver
Study focus group

Across all hours, men aged 17-20 were seven times more at risk and those aged 21-25 twice the risk.

Comments from the focus groups involved in the study included the view that speeding was safer in the dark: "There's nobody coming the other way, you'd be able to see the lights."

Another said: "It's different when you're drunk, you don't really care when you're driving."

"Inexperienced driving, a cavalier attitude to life, a night-time social life involving alcohol, and driving too fast, are combining to kill and maim young people and other road users every night of the week," AA Motoring Trust road safety head Andrew Howard said.

He called for urgent police action to get thrill-seeking young men off the road.

He also said the government needed to improve young men's attitude to driving as much as improving their ability to drive.

Risk to women

Young women aged between 17 and 20 have between two and three times the risk of all women, whatever the time of day, the report said.

But Mr Howard warned that young women often accepted lifts home from young men at night.

"We must address young men's worrying lack of understanding about driving risks at night, and a tolerance of drink-driving, bad behaviour and overloading in cars."

Night-time Accidents, a two-year study by UCL, was jointly funded by the AA Trust and the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund.

The two-year study involved analysis of government road casualty and traffic data alongside the government's diary-based National Travel Survey.

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