Research from the AA Charitable Trust shows 71% of fatal car crashes involving young drivers take place on rural roads.

The research, funded by the Road Safety Trust, analysed more than 70,000 young driver crashes over a six-year period.

It shows young drivers (aged 17-24 years) are over-represented in rural road collisions by 9%, relative to all roads. The over-representation is highest for those aged 17 years (27%) and decreases 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% and 11.3% respectively).

The research also found:

  • July, August, October and November are the most concerning months for crashes involving young drivers on rural roads
  • The 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 15% for drivers of all ages.
  • Substance impairment was attributed to a young driver in 9% of young rural driver crashes on Sundays compared to an average of 4% on all other days

As part of the research, the AA Charitable Trust has published an interactive map highlighting the riskiest rural roads for young drivers.

Map users can see the most dangerous routes 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.

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.”

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.

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