Thursday 22 March 2018

Young drivers five times more likely to die behind the wheel

Paul Melia

THE horrific death toll caused by inexperienced drivers being let loose behind the wheel is revealed for the first time today.

Young drivers are five times more likely to die than experienced motorists, while passengers are three times more likely to be killed, according to a study by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

It is the first time safety bosses have quantified the losses and it shows that weekends are the deadliest time of the week.

Almost half of all 17 to 24-year-old victims die on Saturday and Sunday, while children as young as 10 years of age are dying and being injured.

The research proves how inexperienced drivers are putting road users' lives at risk, with 1,284 killed between 1997 and 2008.

Another 4,153 were seriously injured, with many victims forced to rely on others to help them live their lives because their severe injuries have robbed them of their independence.

The study comes less than a week after four teenagers died in a crash in Kerry, and a month after eight people -- including seven teenagers -- lost their lives in Donegal.

The study, which examined all fatal and serious collisions over an 11-year period, also found:

  • Almost half (47pc) of young people were killed on Saturday and Sunday.
  • July and October are the deadliest months.
  • One-in-three fatal crashes takes place between midnight and 5am.
  • Some 37pc of those killed were drivers and 28pc were passengers.
  • Young drivers aged 17-24 make up 29pc of all those killed on the roads.
  • Eighteen boys and girls aged 10-16 were driving when they were killed.

RSA chief executive Noel Brett said last night the evidence showed that measures were needed to help tackle the carnage on the roads.

Next Wednesday, it will announce details of a new Graduated Driver Licensing system, that will include a requirement that all learners take a set number of lessons from a qualified driving instructor.


The changes will also oblige a learner to keep a logbook detailing the hours spent practising. Only motorists who pass an approved syllabus will be allowed to sit a test.

"It's the evidence as to why we need to continue the measures," said Mr Brett.

"The RSA has worked hard to get education in place, and we have programmes in every school and college. Now, for the first time, we will have a driver licence regime to back this up.

"The figures show just how vulnerable people are, especially inexperienced drivers. The vast majority of young people are responsible, and we need to ensure the measures we introduce target the non-compliant.

"We need to take the next step. We need the support of young people and their parents. Parents have to supervise how their children use the road, but it's not just drivers, it's passengers too."

Despite the number of road deaths falling to a record low, Ireland is one of the few countries in the EU that does not have a formal programme on how people are taught to drive.

Some 140 people have died on the roads this year.

A survey from AA Ireland yesterday found that 86pc of the 7,000 polled were in favour of the new licensing system, with the highest approval rate (90.9pc) in Wexford and the lowest in Clare (79.4pc).

Unsurprisingly, one-fifth of respondents with less than three years' experience behind the wheel did not agree with the new learner permit process.

AA director of policy Conor Faughnan said the new system would provide a better standard of training.

"Road safety has improved significantly in the past decade, but appalling events like those in Killarney and Donegal remind us that we cannot let road safety slip down the list of priorities," he said. "Even though proper training has a cost attached to it, it must become an integral part of learning how to drive."

Irish Independent

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