Research highlights most dangerous rural roads for young drivers

Young drivers were also shown to face a higher risk of death or serious injury when involved in a crash on a rural road compared to an urban road

New research has found that 71% of fatal crashes involving young drivers are on rural roads.

The study by The AA Charitable Trust found that young drivers (aged 17-to-24) are over-represented in rural crashes by 9%, relative to all roads, with the over-representation highest for those aged 17 (27%) and decreasing with every subsequent year.

Young drivers were also shown to face a higher risk of death (2%) or serious injury (15.2%) when involved in a crash on a rural road compared to an urban road (0.6%; 11.3%).

The most dangerous road by collision density is the A229 in Kent, and by percentage of all crashes is the A6076 in County Durham. The A2 in Kent and A3 in Surrey are also on the list, as well as the A704 in West Lothian and the A419 in Gloucestershire.

The proportion of crashes on rural roads on Sundays is 24% higher for young drivers than it is for other drivers. Young drivers are also at a higher risk of a single vehicle collision on rural roads.

The dataset behind the research covers six years of crash data (2013-2018). Analysts at Agilysis and the Road Safety Foundation studied 74,919 young drivers involved in crashes of all injury severities on a rural road.

The results sit behind an interactive map which shows the relative risk of collisions involving young drivers on rural routes across the country.

Map users can see the most dangerous rural roads for young drivers by collision density and as a percentage of all crashes indicating the relative risks young drivers face on these roads compared to other drivers.

Data will be shared with relevant and interested local authorities to help highlight those roads which appear to pose the greatest risk.

Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust director, said: “This ground-breaking analysis shows, for the first time, the most dangerous rural roads for young drivers as well as an in-depth study of contributory factors involved in those crashes.

“Many young drivers and indeed parents are unaware that rural roads pose a specific and significant risk to young drivers and potentially are much more dangerous than motorways or urban roads.  71% of fatal car crashes involving young drivers take place on rural roads. The research should help target driver education at the times and places young drivers are most at risk.

“Our data clearly shows that the rural road risk is highest for the youngest drivers on our roads and decreases with each year of age. This is a clear sign greater education and exposure to rural roads helps alleviate the risks they pose.

“This is just the first stage in what we plan to be an ongoing campaign to really improve the education of young drivers on rural roads.”

Case study: James O’Kennedy, Team Leader, South Central Ambulance Service.

James O’Kennedy has seen the aftermath of the risks rural roads pose to young drivers during his career as a paramedic. In his experience, each rural crash involving a young driver which he has attended has had a number of contributory factors including high speeds, slippery conditions around farms, adverse weather and failure to allow sufficient passing space on tight country lanes.

He said: “Attending any road death is always a difficult experience but to attend an incident where a young driver, or those travelling with them, have lost their life is especially traumatic.

“As well as being deeply tragic for those involved, these incidents can have a significant life-long effect on the emergency services personnel who attend the scene.”

Young rural driver crash fact file

  • July, August, October and November are the most concerning months for crashes involving young drivers on rural roads
  • Proportion of crashes involving young drivers which are on Sundays is 9% higher on rural roads than on urban roads
  • Single vehicle collisions account for 27% of all young driver crashes on rural roads compared to 16% for drivers of all ages.
  • Substance impairment attributed to a young driver in 9% of young driver rural road crashes on Sundays compared to an average of 4% on other days

Call to action

  • Driving lessons to cover driving on all types of road at different times of the day and in different weather conditions.
  • Campaign to raise awareness amongst drivers and parents of the dangers
  • Interactive map to be used as a Think! educational resource
  • Local media to highlight the most dangerous rural roads
  • Raise awareness that those growing up in rural areas are more at risk on the roads than their urban counterparts

1 thought on “Research highlights most dangerous rural roads for young drivers”

  1. It would also be interesting to know where the people involved in serious or fatal accidents live.
    Are they rural residents, or urban dwellers unused to rural roads.
    According to DVSA statistics the driving test pass rate can be almost twice as high at rural test centres, suggesting it is easier to pass there than in busy urban centres.

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