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Teen speeders terrorize the roads
Young people admit to shocking levels of speeding, frequently with their friends in the car with them, finds research published today (30 June 2010) by charity Brake and FedEx Express.
The survey of 2,800 British youngsters by the road safety charity and courier service, carried out as part of their 2young2die campaign, found:

• More than half (56%) have been a passenger in a car driven by a young driver at more than 40 mph in a 30 mph limit or at more than 70 mph on a rural road.
• 1 in 5 (23%) have raced on a public road as a driver or passenger.
• 1 in 10 (10%) have overtaken another vehicle, at speed, without being able to see what is coming.

Young passengers find it difficult to speak out when put at risk by speed, or don’t perceive the risk. More than half (58%) of young passengers who’d been in a car driven by a speeding young driver said they didn’t ask the driver to slow down. 

The result is tragic loss of young lives. Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people aged 15-24[1]. Young drivers are involved in more fatal crashes and more are killed than any other age group of drivers[2]. A huge 43% of people who die on the road in crashes involving speed are aged 16-25[3]. Many more young people suffer catastrophic injuries such as brain injury or paralysis.

Brake is calling for the Government to introduce Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) so that young people who choose to learn to drive must do so in stages over a longer time period. GDL is supported by the Association of British Insurers and has been shown to dramatically reduce casualties among young people in countries such as New Zealand[4]. The charity is also calling for the introduction of compulsory education in secondary schools that warns of the dangers of speed and other forms of high-risk driving, such as drink and drug driving, or driving without seat belts. This education would also encourage young people to delay learning to drive and not take lifts with young drivers.

In 2009, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) reported on their consultation ‘learning to drive[5]’, concluding that they would continue to monitor evidence from other countries before acting to increase regulation on learning to drive or enforce post-test restrictions on newly qualified drivers. Brake argues that strong evidence has been available for over a decade. While the UK delays making tough decisions, more young people are killed on our roads each year than from any other cause[6].

Ellen Booth, Brake campaigns officer, said: “Many young people get a thrill from driving fast with their friends in the car, but because of the way young people’s brains develop, they often don’t yet have the ability to control their thrill-seeking tendencies. They often feel invincible and over-estimate their power to get out of trouble. Brake is urging the government to take steps now to stop more families suffering the devastation of the death of a teenager.” 

The survey was carried out using anonymous questionnaires completed by 2,800 14-25 year olds in schools and colleges throughout the UK as part of the 2young2die campaign. The 2young2die campaign aims to stop deaths and injuries involving young drivers and motorcycle riders by running interactive workshops in schools, colleges and youth offender institutions, led by volunteers trained by Brake. The volunteers include bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims, emergency service professionals such as paramedics and fire officers, teachers and youth workers. These volunteers engage groups of young people in hard-hitting discussions about the extent of deaths and injuries on roads involving young drivers, the causes of these casualties, and how to avoid becoming one.

Will Martin, Managing Director, Operations, FedEx Express, said: “The results of this survey show the importance of educating young people on road safety and the consequences of their actions if they ignore the risks of speeding and do not pay full attention while driving. The work that Brake does is critical to reducing the number of deaths on the UK roads each year and FedEx Express is proud to support this cause. FedEx Express always strives to contribute to improving the quality of life in the communities in which it operates and we believe this project has made a real and positive difference to road safety in the UK. The success of this project has been demonstrated by the recent news that the academy has trained its 150,000th person.” 

To train to become a 2young2die volunteer, go to www.brake.org.uk/events for training days. For more information about the 2young2die campaign, go to www.2young2die.org.uk
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