Many young passengers 'fear for safety in cars'

Crash scene Brake said, on average, a young person is killed on UK roads every 18 hours

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More than half of young people can fear for their safety when driven by one of their peers, a survey suggests.

Some 54% said they have been put at risk by young people speeding, while 24% had been in a car after the driver had taken drugs or alcohol, road safety charity Brake and QBE Insurance found.

The poll, based on responses from 8,110 people aged 15-25 across the UK, comes at the start of Road Safety Week.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said most young drivers were responsible.

According to the Brake survey, 56% of young people "sometimes" feared for their safety when a passenger in a car driven by a motorist in the same age group. But 42% said they never fear for their safety.

The speeding question in the poll asked the respondents to consider when they had been in a car with a young driver who broke the limit by more than 10mph.

The survey also suggested that fifth of respondents do not always wear seatbelts when a passenger with a young driver.

The vast majority (82%) of respondents said they supported at least one restriction on young drivers, such as a zero-tolerance alcohol limit, tougher penalties or a ban on driving certain kind of vehicles.

Casualty statistics

On average, a young person is killed on UK roads every 18 hours, while a young person suffers a serious injury every 90 minutes, Brake said.

Bereaved girlfriend's view

Hayler Porter with Joseph Pomeroy

Hayley Porter's boyfriend Joseph Pomeroy, 22, from Llwyngwril in Wales, was killed in a road accident in December 2009. His friend, Gareth Winyard, who was at the wheel, was convicted of causing death by careless driving and sentenced to 16 months in jail.

"Joe was perfect. He was a beautiful person, adventurous, mischievous and so much fun to be around.

"I was so happy with Joe and looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him. I found my soul mate. I imagined I would hold blue roses at our wedding but that won't happen now. I leave blue roses at his grave instead.

"Drivers have a responsibility to look out for their passengers and other people; it's not just your own life you risk when you drive fast or drink drive or use a mobile.

"If you are a passenger, don't get in the car with an irresponsible driver: it's not worth your life. Nobody thinks it will happen to them, but it does happen and it could happen to you or someone you love."

The charity also pointed out that drivers aged 17 to 24 made up only 12% of licence holders yet were involved in crashes resulting in 25% of deaths and serious injuries.

Brake campaigns director Julie Townsend said "urgent action" was needed to reduce suffering caused by car crashes.

She said it was "unacceptable" that more young people die in preventable road crashes than from any other cause.

"Every day, more families face the unbearable news that a loved one has been killed suddenly and violently, or suffered a horrific injury, in young driver crashes."

The charity added that there is evidence that "graduated driver licensing", including a minimum learning to drive period, and restrictions for novice drivers, would prevent 200 deaths and thousands of injuries each.

Mr Penning said Britain had "some of the safest roads in the world" and it had taken steps to "further improve safety".

"We have made the driving test more realistic by introducing an independent driving element and have stopped the publication of test routes to stop candidates learning them by rote. We are also considering how to improve training for drivers after they pass their test, to help them develop their skills and confidence," he said.

"However, we do not propose placing any restrictions on new drivers as we do not want to unfairly penalise responsible young people who rely on driving to get to work or college, " he added.

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