Revealed: Deadliest rural roads for young drivers

·3 min read
Country road - RA Kearton/Moment RF
Country road - RA Kearton/Moment RF

Learners need to take driving lessons on rural roads, the AA has warned as new research revealed that seven in 10 fatal crashes involving young motorists happened in the countryside.

The motoring association found that car accidents where drivers aged between 17 and 24 were behind the wheel were three times more likely to be fatal in rural areas than in cities and towns.

The groundbreaking study, which looked at police and government data on more than 74,000 crashes between 2013 and 2018, also found the A229 in Kent and the A6076 in County Durham were the most lethal roads for young drivers.

The findings prompted the AA to call for an overhaul of how learners are taught to ensure they are trained to drive safely in the countryside.

The research, which was carried out by the AA Charitable Trust and the Road Safety Trust, found that 71 per cent of crashes that killed young drivers happened on rural roads, with 17-year-olds the most likely to be killed.

The youngest drivers were almost a third (29 per cent) more likely to die in a rural crash than drivers of other ages.

Crashes involving young drivers are more than three times as likely to be fatal on rural roads, with 2 per cent of all such accidents resulting in a death compared to just 0.6 per cent of crashes in urban environments.

Young people were also found to be twice as likely to have a single vehicle crash - where no other vehicle is involved - on rural roads, with such accidents making up 27 per cent of all countryside crashes compared to 16 per cent for other age groups.

The research revealed that young people were more than twice as likely to have a crash due to drink or drugs on a Sunday, with such incidents accounting for 9 per cent of accidents on that day compared to just 4 per cent on weekdays.

Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust director, said: “Our data clearly show that the rural road risk is highest for the youngest drivers on our roads and decreases with each year of age. This is a clear sign that greater education and exposure to rural roads helps alleviate the risks they pose.”

The data revealed that the three most dangerous roads for sheer number of crashes involving young drivers were the A229 and A2 in Kent, and the A3 in Surrey.

Meanwhile the most dangerous routes in terms of the percentage of accidents that involved young drivers compared to other motorists were the A6076 in County Durham, A704 in West Lothian and A419 in Gloucestershire.

Following the research, the Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said: “Rural roads are often narrow with blind bends, which is why it’s essential we raise awareness among young people on how to drive safely on them.”

“I strongly support the AA in their work to improve the education of drivers. Our award-winning THINK! campaign challenges social norms among younger drivers – including attitudes to speeding and driving on rural roads –and I look forward to working together to prevent further tragedies.”

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