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RAC Foundation says young drivers 'more likely to crash'

By Steffan Powell
Newsbeat reporter


Nearly 12% of people who are hurt or killed in a car accident are involved in a crash with drivers aged between 17 and 19, new figures suggest.

That's despite the fact that 17 to 19-year-olds only make up 1.5% of the total number of licensed drivers.

The RAC Foundation looked at police accident statistics in 49 areas of the UK from 2008 to 2012.

They want a graduated licensing system for new drivers and say it could stop 4,500 people getting hurt each year.

New drivers would have to have a 12-month probationary period with rules restricting what they could and couldn't do on the road.

The government put plans to introduce the system on hold last week.

See a full list of police accident figures from across the UK at the bottom of this article.

image captionDyfed Powys has the highest proportion of young people involved in accidents

The RAC Foundation found that between 2008 and 2012 there were on average 188,368 people injured in a car accident each year.

It says that 22,391 of those, or one in every eight drivers, were hurt as a result of a crash involving a 17 to 19-year-old driver.

RAC Foundation spokesman Philip Gomm said: "We want to respect young people's freedoms we want to keep them safe for the whole of their driving lives, but that possibly involves some limited restrictions when they first pass their test because that's the riskiest time for any driver.

"We often think that motorways are dangerous roads because of the speeds involved but accidents happen and they're probably at their most common and severest on the rural roads.

"[It's] those that don't have the crash barriers, those that have the ditches and the trees beside them, and this is where young people are particularly hurting themselves."

The proportion of injuries caused by crashes with young drivers is highest in the Dyfed Powys area of Wales.

Nearly one in five people (18.2%) were hurt in an accident involving a 17 to 19-year-old.

That was followed by Gwent (17%), Cumbria and North Wales (15.8%) with London having the smallest proportion (5.6%).

image captionRochelle and Sunny go to Lampeter University near Cardigan

Rochelle from London studies at Lampeter University and is not surprised that Dyfed Powys tops the list.

"The way they drive round here is crazy," she said. "I've never seen anything like that in my life.

"They don't stick to the speed limit. They come flying round the corner onto the other side of the road. They have their full beam on."

Sunny thinks a graduated licensing system is a good idea.

"A lot of people who pass their test think they're the best drivers in the world," she said. "Maybe it would be good to implement something like that so that people can learn as they go.

image captionMathew and Sam are 18 and from Carmarthen

Mathew and Sam think young drivers are being unfairly blamed.

Mathew said: "They think we're inexperienced but [we're not]. I'm not being ageist but they are not as quick as we are."

Sam added: "There are idiot young drivers that are young and because of them we get a lot of the blame but it's not just young drivers that are foolish on the road."

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