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Young drivers lack awareness of vulnerable road users, according to new research

Research by IAM RoadSmart and TRL into crashes involving young drivers has concluded that they need to learn more quickly about how to avoid crashes with the most vulnerable users on our roads.

The report found that while young drivers quickly get to grips with vehicle control, they take a lot longer to learn how to deal with vulnerable road users, be safe on the motorway and safely complete low speed manoeuvres.

IAM RoadSmart said these findings proved a surprise, as the classic young driver crash usually involves going too fast on a country road.

The report, titled Young Novice Driver Collision Types, makes several key recommendations to improve new driver training, particularly in hazard perception around vulnerable road users and around other vehicles.

It underlines the critical importance of gaining driving experience in a wide variety of traffic situations.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said: “It is really useful to learn more about how young drivers are gaining the experience they need to have a safe driving career.

“However, analysing the results, it is vital that government, road safety bodies and the driver instruction industry work together to generate new strategies to target those skills that are not being learned at the fastest rate.

“It also shows that in the formative years of driving, there is clearly a need for post-test training to continue, to build experience that can reduce the number of needless tragedies on our roads.”

In their first year on the road experts suggest an average 17-year-old driver can expect their risk of being involved in a crash to reduce by 36% as a result of driving experience, but only by 6% owing to ageing and maturity.

Analysis of collision trends suggests a substantial reduction in crashes overall for the two youngest age groups between 2002 and 2015. The accident rate for 17-20 year old car drivers reduced by 49% in this time, while the rate for 21-29 year olds reduced by 33%.

The report also concluded that travel behaviour has changed, with 17-20 year olds driving less and walking or cycling more.

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