Young drivers in 'risk-taking culture'
AN ALARMING survey has revealed a risk-taking culture among young drivers in East Anglia involving racing contests, drink or drug driving.Nearly four in every ten young people surveyed in the region admitted having been involved in a road race, while three in ten said they had been in a car driven by a young motorist on drink or drugs.
By Danielle Nuttall
AN ALARMING survey has revealed a risk-taking culture among young drivers in East Anglia involving racing contests, drink or drug driving.
Nearly four in every ten young people surveyed in the region admitted having been involved in a road race, while three in ten said they had been in a car driven by a young motorist on drink or drugs.
The survey, published today by road safety charity Brake, also found that 9% of youngsters had driven a stolen car and more than half (51%) have broken 30mph speed limits by 10mph or more - three quarters of these were male.
The survey was published on the same day as Brake launched Road Safety Week to make drivers to think twice about taking unnecessary risks behind the wheel.
Last year, 101 drivers, passengers and motorcyclists aged between 15 and 25 were killed on roads in the East of England while 1,045 were seriously injured.
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The survey also comes after a weekend of tragedy on Suffolk's roads which claimed the lives of two young men and a 60-year-old motorcyclist in two separate accidents - although the causes of those are not known.
Brake said 16 people aged 15-25 were killed on Suffolk's roads during 2005 and 116 seriously injured while in Essex, 17 youngsters were killed and 282 seriously injured.
It interviewed 431 15 to 25-year-olds in East Anglia about their road habits and found 35% had driven without a licence, 31% do not always wear their seatbelts and nearly one in five had been a passenger in a car driven by someone they knew was unlicensed, uninsured or had stolen the vehicle.
Chief Inspector Martin Barnes-Smith, head of Suffolk Constabulary's Roads Policing, said: “We fully support the work of Brake and their efforts to raise people's awareness of the consequences of irresponsible driving and often risk taking of young drivers.
“We issue countless pieces of advice on a range of roads policing issues and yet amazingly, it would appear that the message is not getting across to everyone.
“There are still drivers out there who are prepared to take risks with their own lives, the lives of their passengers and other road users every time they get behind the wheel of their vehicle.
“The simple fact is this: as long as there are motorists who ignore the law and ignore our advice, people will continue to die and be seriously injured on our county's roads.”
Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for roads and transport, said Suffolk would soon see the creation of a new road safety partnership including the council, Suffolk Fire Service, Suffolk SafeCam and the police.
“What we can do as a road safety service is to drive home to new drivers the dangers inherent in driving a motor vehicle. Make them aware of the damage they can inflict by irresponsible behaviour,” he said.
“We do have various programmes of education and we do go into schools and college for demonstrations.
“But if people are going to drive at excessive speeds in inappropriate conditions there will be a tragic outcome.”
Brake is calling on the Government to introduce a system of graduated driver licensing (GDL) so there is a minimum period for learning to drive followed by a provision licence period.
This would involve restrictions on newly-qualified drivers such as night-time curfews and limits on numbers of passengers.
Jools Townsend, head of education at Brake, said: “Every week in the East, more families and communities suffer tragic deaths and injuries caused by risk-taking young drivers.
“Yet road deaths and injuries are preventable - through young people taking more responsibility for their actions on roads, and through a combined effort by parents, communities and our Government to help young drivers stay safe.
“We're calling on all young people in the region to commit to staying within speed limits, never driving on drink or drugs and always belting up.”