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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March, 2005, 12:41 GMT
New freedom 'could cost dearly'
Doug Kennedy
BBC News Website

Sustaining the road safety message is a continuous battle to make motorists think twice, according to experts.

Young driver campaign poster
The hard hitting campaign urges drivers to "calm down"

The Scottish Road Safety Campaign has launched a six-month scheme urging newly passed drivers to consider what could go wrong.

A series of graphic posters and radio adverts warns young people that their entire future is at stake when they take to the road.

SRSC's Michael McDonnell said the first six months of driving was critical.

He said: "If we can keep people out of trouble in that first six months, then they should have built up enough experience to last them the rest of their driving career."

The SRSC believes it can make ground by appealing to the image-conscious nature of its target audience.

Once they pass their test the whole world opens up in front of them, mortality and accident risk are at the back of their minds
Michael McDonnell

The campaign message of "a lot could change in your next six months" focuses on the most risky period in a new driver's life.

Mr McDonnell said it is hard to get them to "calm down".

He said: "This is a notoriously difficult age group to target.

"Once they pass their test the whole world opens up in front of them, mortality and accident risk are at the back of their minds.

"We've also found that the prospect of death is not a deterrent, it doesn't register as a factor, particularly for young males, which is why we are focusing on disability and maiming. Our research shows this is a far more likely message to succeed."

Rural risks

Statistics show that one-in-five drivers is likely to be involved in an accident in the first year of driving.

Some of the main contributing factors are inexperience and underdeveloped hazard perception.

SRSC said that most at risk were 17-22-year-old Scottish males, who are more likely to be involved in an accident than any other age group.

Mr McDonnell said: "Young people are significantly over-represented in fatal and serious road accidents."

He added that at particular risk are drivers in rural areas who are more than twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured.

About 2,000 young people pass their practical driving test every month in Scotland and motor schools will be handing out leaflets featuring the main points of the campaign to newly passed drivers.

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