Risks associated with young drivers ‘stem from inexperience, immaturity and lifestyle’

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) is calling on the European Union to improve the safety of young drivers, on the back of new data which shows young road users represent a quarter of all road deaths.

In a new report, ETSC says that, in 2019, 5,182 young people aged 15 to 30 years were killed in road collisions in the 25 EU countries for which figures are available. Road deaths among young people in the EU represent around a fifth of deaths from all causes in that age group.

Around 40% of road deaths in the EU occur in collisions that involve one or more young drivers or powered two-wheeler riders.

ETSC says the overall numbers ‘mask a huge gender disparity’. The report says men represent 81% of all road deaths among young people. Significant differences between male and female road mortality remain even after taking into consideration the fact that men drive more than women.

The report says that, while young people are a high-risk group, most young people do not deliberately drive unsafely.

ETSC says the risks associated with young drivers and riders stem from inexperience, immaturity and lifestyle linked to their age and gender. It points to data which shows that the younger a person starts unrestricted solo driving, the more likely it is that he or she will have a fatal collision, particularly if aged under 18 years.

ETSC says graduated driving licence (GDL) systems ‘have been assessed by a number of studies that show a reduction in collisions’. GDL puts additional restrictions on younger drivers during the first years of driving, allowing them to ‘gain experience while reducing certain high-risk situations’, according to ETSC.

Young people, especially men, are also over-represented when it comes to road deaths linked to drink-driving and drugs. ETSC argues that enforcing and tightening legal Blood Alcohol Concentration limits, and providing better support for young people living with identified alcohol and other drug issues ‘can help prevent these deaths’.

The European Commission is currently reviewing rules on driver licensing, with an updated legal proposal expected in the next 18 months.

ETSC is calling for the European Commission to recommend a drink-driving limit set effectively at zero (enforced at 0.2 g/l Blood Alcohol Concentration) – a measure that it says is ‘especially important for younger drivers’.

Regarding drug driving, ETSC would also like to see a European-wide zero-tolerance limit for illicit psychoactive drugs.

02 November 2021