Two County Durham parents have joined a group of bereaved parents in calling on government to tackle the ‘disproportionately high’ number of young driver and passenger deaths.

John and Karen Rowlands, of County Durham, whose son, Andrew, 18, was killed when the car he was travelling in, which was being driven by a 16-year-old, flipped over and crashed in 2020.

The vehicle was illegal and unroadworthy, and was purchased for just £100 without a single check.

They have joined the group Forget-me-not Families Uniting, which consists of those whose family members were all killed by cars driven by young drivers, as they say “enough is enough” regarding what they see as government inaction in tackling the issue.

The Northern Echo: Two County Durham parents have joined a group of bereaved parents in calling on government to

Sharron Huddleston, another member of the group, whose 18-year-old daughter, Caitlin, was killed in a crash in 2017 which was put down to the ‘inexperience of the newly qualified driver,’ said government cannot sit back any longer.

She said: “How many more young people need to die before action is taken? We can’t sit back any longer and just watch as more and more young people are killed or seriously injured in road collisions.

“Our group was formed as a means of reaching out to the Government collectively, as individual contacts resulted in no action. I have been campaigning for years and nobody has listened, despite all of the overwhelming evidence that has been put to them by leading experts in this field.

“Our message to the Government is simple – listen to us, listen to the experts and learn from other countries, who have seen a huge reduction in young driver and passenger deaths after introducing Graduated Driving Licensing for young novice drivers.

“We all want and deserve a serious conversation with the Government. We want to know what they are going to do about this huge problem. If they won’t introduce a Graduated Driving Licensing system, why? And if not that, then what?

“They run young driver marketing campaigns, but this alone will never be enough to change mindsets and behaviours, or reduce road collisions. We need to go much further than that. And we owe it to young people and their families to do so much more.”

FFU are calling for the introduction of a Graduated Driving Licensing to reduce road death and serious injury, and an expert panel to advise the Government on how this should look.

The group currently consists of 40 sets of parents.

Figures published by the RAC shows that young drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 are involved in 24 per cent of all collisions resulting in death or serious injury.

This accounts for 7 per cent of the total driving population.

Figures published by the Department for Transport showed that  4,935 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes involving at least one young driver in 2022 – this includes other road users of all ages, such as people travelling in separate cars or pedestrians.

Dr Ian Greenwood, who has a PhD in road safety policy, said: "I am delighted that so many academics and experts have supported this letter - the 10 whose names were published and the 14 others who supported it.

“They are experts in criminology, law, medicine, psychology, public health, and transport safety: all disciplines which impact directly on young driver safety. The evidence for Graduated Driving.

“Licensing is strong and has been available for many years, and I hope politicians will listen to the experts and act.

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“Graduated Driving Licensing was first debated in the House of Commons in 1993, and my (forever) 12-year-old daughter was killed in a young driver crash in 2008.

"Had politicians acted before then, or over the decades since, and not simply debated, Alice might very well be looking forward to her 28th birthday this year.

“Between 20% and 40% of other bereaved parents might still have their children too. Politicians need to decide whether they will continue to ignore the evidence and calls from parents, or finally take action."