MORE than 13 per cent of road casualties in the region are hurt or killed in collisions involving young drivers, according to a report published today (Tuesday, May 27).
Between 2008 and 2012 in County Durham, 14.1 per cent of collisions where a person was killed or seriously injured involved a driver between 17 and 19-years-old.
In North Yorkshire, young drivers accounted for 14 per cent of serious collisions, while in Cleveland they accounted for 13.8 per cent, and 11.8 per cent in the Northumbria Police force area.
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The report by the Transport Research Laboratory, commissioned by the RAC Foundation, found that despite 17 to 19-year-olds accounting for 1.5 per cent of all licensed drivers, nearly one in eight (11.9 per cent) are involved in collisions in which a person is killed or seriously injured.
One in five young drivers will have an accident within six months of passing their test, with novice drivers particularly at risk due to their lack of experience.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Whichever way you cut it young drivers pose a significant and disproportionate risk to themselves and to others and it is in rural areas where the casualty rate is highest.
“The government has repeatedly delayed announcing its strategy to help reduce young driver accidents but here is yet another piece of evidence which shows graduated licensing can significantly cut death and injury.
“The frustration is that while ministers here prevaricate, action is being taken just across the Irish Sea. Earlier this month a bill was put before the Northern Ireland Assembly which proposes the introduction of many of the measures this government appears to have ruled out.”
He added: “We should all have an interest in preserving young drivers’ lives rather than exposing them to undue risk at the stage of their driving careers where they are most vulnerable. This is about ensuring their long term safety and mobility. Not curtailing it.”
The study estimated that about 4,500 fewer people across Britain would be hurt if a graduated driving licensing scheme was introduced – including 430 people who would otherwise have been killed or seriously injured.
It would also lead to 269 fewer people a year being injured on the region’s roads in accidents with young drivers, including 26 who would otherwise have been killed or seriously injured, saving about £12.3 million.
The scheme places restrictions on newly qualified drivers during the first few months of passing their test, including a limit on the number of passengers they can carry and a late night curfew.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We know the number of young people being killed on our roads is far too high, which is why we want to do all we can to tackle this issue.
"It is vital we strike the right balance between safety and not unduly restricting the freedom of young drivers, which is why we are carrying out further research to fully understand the issues before setting out how we proceed."