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Last Updated: Monday, 3 April 2006, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Teenage driver deaths on the rise
Car crash wreckage
The figures may spark new debate, the trust said
The number of teenage motorists dying in road crashes in England and Wales has jumped in recent years despite fewer holding licences, figures show.

Young driver deaths stood at 113 in 2000 but by 2004 had increased to 151, the AA Motoring Trust research showed.

Those aged 16-19 holding licences in the same period fell from 41% to 26%.

The news came as two young men were jailed for killing four teenage girls when they crashed while racing at speeds exceeding 70mph in Hull.

Meanwhile, the research data may rekindle debate over the way new drivers are trained, with ideas like restricted licences being possible future solutions, the trust said.

Curfews, the role of drugs and driving and bans on new motorists carrying passengers are other possible options for discussion, said the organisation's head of road safety Andrew Howard.

In recent years, the government has begun to respond to statistics showing new drivers are more likely to have accidents, employing measures like the Pass Plus course.

Car culture

The information highlighted by the AA Motoring Trust was gathered by cross-referencing government statistics on accidents and driving licences.

It showed deaths of 16-19-year-olds per 100,000 driving licences had risen from 9.76 in 1998-2000 to 19.23 in 2004.

It could be that a higher proportion of young drivers now comes from this high-risk group.
Andrew Howard
AA Motoring Trust

Figures reveal the number of driving tests being taken is on the increase.

Teenagers may be deciding to delay the time they start driving, a trend possibly connected to the rise in university admissions, said Mr Howard.

"More youngsters may travel in a vehicle as there are less drivers to go round. This makes multiple deaths in accidents more likely.

"Similarly, there is a smaller pool of drivers to be the 'designated driver' and stay off the alcohol.

"Much research has suggested that the 'car culture' - those young people whose lives rotate around cars - leads to a poor safety record," he added.

"As it is unlikely that those teenagers who are mad on cars will defer learning to drive, it could be that a higher proportion of young drivers now comes from this high-risk group."

One option put forward by the trust, which researches road safety, is for a curfew on teenagers driving late at night, when most accidents involving teenagers occur.

Philip Ennion, a young learner driver, told BBC News 24 the organisation's ideas made sense.

"Obviously at night you've got a free road and young people who like to impress people' especially if they've got a lot of young people in the car as well," he said.

"They just feel the road is more theirs at night than during the day and they can do what they want on it basically. So obviously I think it's a good idea."

Fatal crash jailing

On Monday, David Rogerson, 22, and Robert McCartney, 24, were jailed for eight years each for killing four teenage girls when their cars crashed.

The pair were racing at speed when they crashed into the same tree, killing four young passengers, Hull Crown Court heard.

Judge Michael Mettyear told the court: "This is truly a terrible case. It is yet another example of young men driving too fast and dangerously.

"This is an offence committed almost exclusively by young men. "It is an unfortunate coincidence that today, on the front page of one of the papers, it's reported that the death rate among young drivers has doubled over the last five years.

"In this case it wasn't the drivers who died but the passengers of one of them."

Your comments:

It is poor drivers who like to show off and act hard who give young drivers like me a bad rep, and even worse a disgracefully high insurance premium. Why is it so unfair for young drivers trying to get insured?
Joe, Nottingham

I've seen a few seminars about young drivers and road accidents and it really hurts people when they see them but there aren't enough seminars.
Jordan, Dunfermline

Maybe if the government imposed some control on the spiralling cost of motor insurance for young drivers, these vunerable drivers may be able to afford to drive larger, safer cars.
Rob Armstrong, Hartlepool

I had the opportunity to live in England for 3 years during my military career. I saw first hand all the car meets and young driver antics. I also saw a complete LACK of Police to even try to hinder these actions. Cameras do NOT work, REAL cops need to patrol and enforce laws like speeding and racing. Many people were able to speed at will at any speed because there was no fear of being caught/suspended
Phil, Seattle, WA USA

Introducing a series of tests for new drivers sounds silly. Being confined to 30 mph roads under a basic test, as suggested by BRAKE today is ludicrous - did the charity actually look at the distribution of roads at all?! Most country roads have a 60 mph limit, so how does a new driver on such a license leave their idyllic but lifeless hamlet in the middle of nowhere?! Make the tests harder or put a horsepower restrictions in place like those in force for motorcyclists.
Matty, Brighton

I think the age at which people are allowed to drive should be raised. I have three daughters aged 21 and over. My eldest two began to drive at over age 25. That seems more reasonable to me. But we need decent public transport too, so they can get about safely. These accidents are very sad.
Yvonne , Bexhill on sea, East Sussex

Considering a 1.1 litre car is able to go plenty fast enough to kill anyone limiting power wont help; neither will increasing the age at which the driving test can be taken, the ones that want to offend will do so, licence or not. Even the alternative, a scooter is just as likely to get someone killed, especially as they are not limited to road use (children's play areas are quite popular too). Education and discipline are the answer.
Steve Curtis, Bath

Rob, Hartlepool, it doesn't matter what size the car is, you can kill or be killed by it at any speed. What is needed is education and tougher punishments as a deterrent, eg drink, drive and kill, then prison sentence and no license again forever etc etc
Ken, Hemel, UK

Now that speed cameras seem to have replaced traffic police as the primary means of enforcement on Britain's roads, it's no surprise the figures have worsened. In addition the basic L test teaches people how to pass the test, not how to drive. As well as practical skills, advanced driver training teaches self control, which is what is lacking in many teenage drivers.
Jez, Woodbridge, UK

Stupid young drivers trying to impress their mates increase insurance premiums, wreck lives and give young drivers a bad reputation - why not make the P plate system compulsory and impose a speed limit of 50mph on them?! The law shouldn't be so soft on those who cause death and injury through dangerous driving... harsher punishments would act as a deterrent.
Kate, Isle of Man

I blame the value of second hand car prices and the ever more powerful cars we drive. When I passed my test I could only dream of affording a 118bhp GTI - that kind of power is in the most basic of models now - with "hot hatches" making 225 bhp. 17 year olds simply do not have the experience, ability or common sense to drive such cars and a horse power limit would ensure they gain experience before they hurry out to buy very fast cars with no skill. They have the same for bikes, why not cars?
Duncan, Cardiff Wales

The sudden rush of adrenaline that pumps in for a few seconds providing great pleasure in defeating someone on the road while one shows off their skills and talent to leave many in wheel chairs and beds for life and a great number six feet under the ground. It is a pity that parents and teachers and the adults do not step up to teach the young youths the hazards associated with such errands. Proper knowledge about the hazards of harsh driving and strict punishment if laws are broken could and will ensure a decrease in the number of casualties in road accidents.
Asif Aziz, Karachi, Pakistan

Young drivers should be given easy access to skid pan courses and track days, and encouraged to use these to learn how to control a vehicle under adverse and extreme conditions. For many, this will satisfy their need to drive fast and try out silly stunts, in a controlled environment where they are not putting anybody's life at risk. For the rest, at least when they do decide to behave badly on the public highway (and they will, there's nothing we can do to prevent this), they'll be more likely to have the skills to pull it off without killing anybody.
Gavan, Watford

Basically, I think that the test should be harder, and a minimum period should be sent as a learn under the supervision of an instructor for so many hours and a longer period under a licensed driver (who has no points), 18 months, so that they can gain experience. Insurance companies should play more of an active role in this instead of the government, like making insurance incentives for post test training courses to learner and low-experience driver.
Darren, Northamptonshire

I think that new drivers should have a limit on the horse power of the vehicle they drive. This will not only stop testosterone fuelled rallying, but also teach new drivers how to handle progressively more powerful vehicles. Also, Police should have powers to confiscate vehicles and order the driver to re-take the driving test if any sort of speeding or dangerous driving offence is committed. That should make new drivers think twice before 'hoofing' it.
Simon, St Asaph, Wales

I believe an extension of the motorcyclists' scheme should be applied where the newer drivers are limited to less powerful cars, rising in steps at their 21st & 25th birthdays. We must change the culture of younger drivers 'macho' image - and that is best sourced from their peers, which means education for all at an early stage.
Phil Lee, Wimborne, England

I think the driving age should be raised to 18 years old. Also, that youngsters should be limited to less powerful cars, until they are 21 or 25, in the same way as certain lorries cannot be driven until 21. I also agree that youngsters should have to do the advanced driving test.
Margaret Maden, Swansea U.K.

restrictions have been in place for motorcycle riders for a few years now, why has this not been introduced for new drivers!? I really think introducing this would cut the death rate of young inexperienced drivers, if they pass the driving test and dad buys them a sports car at 17/18 what chance do the innocent pedestrians have as it will surely be these that suffer
Steve cocks, Warminster England

There should be some hard rules or laws which would take dangerous drivers who have been caught speeding or dangerously driving to be taken off the road. I my self as a learner driver, it had been very difficult trying to get insurance it cost more than what I would have spent on learning and paying for tests.
Thushanth, Harrow, Middlesex

Sadly, I think you will find that many young drivers are driving without licences than used to be the case. The reasons for this are, I believe, the costs involved in learning to drive because they need greater tuition than a few years back as the practical test is now harder. Plus they have to study for and pass the theory and hazard perception tests, both of which cost money and take time. Therefore I believe many youngsters just do not bother and risk driving without a licence. I wonder if these youngsters are included in the death figures?
Graham, Great Wakering, England

A car is a lethal weapon, and should be licensed as such. No one under 25 should be allowed to drive, there should be good affordable public transport for all whenever and wherever needed. Every driver should be police checked, as with other weapons, and those that fail should not be allowed to re-apply for a set period - say a year. The norm should be for us all to travel on public transport.
Mary, Shrewsbury

Hear possible measures to control young drivers

'Tougher terms' for death drivers
08 Mar 06 |  UK Politics

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