New NRMA report a call to address young driver safety
An analysis of young driver safety suggests possible risk-reducing measures.
A report produced by the National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) has highlighted the over-representation of under 25s in motor vehicle accident statistics. Based on the findings, the association has formulated an eight-part plan to tackle inexperienced and at-risk drivers crash involvement.
The Come Home Safe report follows recent news that young drivers are most likely to lose their lives from road-traffic sustained injuries. The paper also follows a NSW Government announcement about a pilot scheme testing in car black-boxes for CTP insurance discounts.
Statistically, drivers aged between 17 and 25 are most at risk on the roads with 1,000 drivers aged below 25 killed every day on roads worldwide. In 2016, 100 young drivers lost their lives, while 1,713 others were severely injured. The effects on families and communities are utterly devastating.
15% of crashes involving P-plate licence holders accounted for 15% of all road deaths. The first six months after getting a probationary licence prove the most dangerous.
What's the cause of high new driver crash rates?
The NRMA report points to six contributing factors:
- Young drivers are inexperienced and have fewer driving hours under their belt.
- Younger drivers were more likely to display poor judgement.
- Under 25s are inclined to underestimate risks.
- In some cases, these drivers deliberately take risks.
- A high proportion of young drivers have older and less safe vehicles. An investigation into a driver's first car shows a high percentage are low-cost, ageing models. Often, these are given to the driver by a family member as a hand-me-down. Findings showed parents prioritised the price, colour and model over safety features when purchasing a car for their child. Drivers in the lowest rated cars were ten times more likely to be killed or injured while 45% of fatalities and 41% of grave injuries among 17-20-year-olds involved older models.
- Brain development was also a key risk factor. Research has shown that young adults don’t develop the ability to switch attention and coordination strategically until their early to mid-twenties.
What is the NRMA proposing?
The NRMA want to keep young drivers safe and reduce road traumas, the leading cause of injury for NSW youths. As part of the report, the NRMA created an eight-part proposal for lowering young driver crash rates.
In short, the NRMA want to see inexperienced drivers swap older, unsafe cars for newer, safer models. The organisation also wants to look at creating a rewards scheme set up for cautious and considered driving.
- An independent evaluation of the 20-year-old NSW Graduated Licencing System. Similar schemes in Victoria and Queensland reduced severe road trauma and fatalities. Victoria GLS drivers get three years of free licencing and ACT drivers get a 25% licence renewal discount.
- A widespread introduction of connected car technology. These systems monitor driver behaviour through sensors. It’s also feasible the technology could block mobile phone signals or sound fatigue and speed alerts. The onboard devices produce a score and report to encourage safer driving. The NRMA wanted to see a six month trial of telematics for P1 licence holders, which a SIRA lead black-box pilot should satisfy.
- The report recognised the need for increased education. In particular, parents and young drivers need to understand which vehicles are safer to own. Education should encourage parents to purchase the safest affordable vehicle they can. The NRMA wants provisional drivers who buy a 5-star ANCAP or UCSR car to receive a registration discount. Used car safety ratings also need increased exposure.
- More research must be done to evaluate the effectiveness of advanced driving training. There are some arguments this may encourage risk-taking driver behaviour. However, real-world driver experience contributed to a 35% reduction in crash involvement. NRMA report writers pointed to the keys2drive program that aims to stop mentors or parents passing on bad driving habits to learners.
- Introduce free licencing for young drivers who maintain a clean record, saving motorists $56 per year.
- An education program that will develop the driving skills and education of youths before they obtain a learners permit.
- A public release of the data from the P drivers project, which will help in the development of driver education curriculums.
- The creation of a Learner Driver Mentoring program that targets indigenous and at-risk youths. Right now, only half of aboriginal Australians hold a driving licence compared to 70% of the non-indigenous population. Without a drivers licence, these youths have fewer job opportunities and reduced access to education, healthcare and social activities. High imprisonment figures for Aboriginal people was also partially attributed to unlicensed driving. 1 in 20 indigenous persons is in prison for driving-related offences. The estimated cost per inmate per year is $100,000 or $17 - $19 million to the NSW government through the police, courts and corrective services. The NRMA suggests an end-to-end program that helps drivers go from a pre-learner to provisional licence cost only $5,000 per completion. 83% of the participants were then able to get a job and the remainder used their car to access education.
ANCAP welcome young driver schemes
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) supports the NRMA report and welcomes any potential young driver incentives.
“Our young and provisionally licensed drivers are some of our most at-risk on the roads, and incentives to make it more affordable for them to travel in safer cars is to be commended,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.
Insurance for under 25s
If you're in the market for under 25 car insurance policies, take a look at our guide for how to compare. It also provides helpful tips to lower your insurance cost. If you want to purchase a new car, check out our guide for loans for 18-year-olds. We also have a dedicated car loan comparison.