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A fast life in the country

Insurers have long told us that younger drivers face higher premiums because they are more likely to have accidents. Now research is showing that younger drivers (17-25) in rural locations are 44% more likely to be involved in an accident when compared with urban drivers of the same age.

Insurers have long told us that younger drivers face higher premiums because they are more likely to have accidents. Now research is showing that younger drivers (17-25) in rural locations are 44% more likely to be involved in an accident when compared with urban drivers of the same age. More encouragingly, the same survey, carried out by Road Safety Analysis for tyre maker, Michelin, shows that young drivers themselves want to see more checks on their driving. It reveals that young drivers back the Department for Transport (DoT) Green Paper, which calls for measures such as mandatory motorway driving lessons, night-time motorway lessons and breathe-alcohol ignition locks on cars.

The survey shows that the higher speed limits of 60mph might be a contributory factor in the higher incidence of accidents among young drivers on rural roads. Young rural drivers are more than two thirds more likely to have an accident on a 60mph limit than young urban drivers and more than 40% admit to driving faster on rural roads. Head of government affairs at Michelin, Darren Lindsey, commented: "It is not the fact that rural roads are inherently more dangerous than urban roads. The fact is that young rural drivers are more likely to crash, either because they feel more confident driving at speeds, negotiating bends or driving on unlit roads."

The Michelin sponsored study revealed that 8,227 young rural drivers were involved in an accident between 2007 and 2011 where at least one person was seriously injured or killed. The data on young rural drivers in the survey is supported by interviews with 700 such drivers. Mr Lindsay went on to explain the difference in statistics between young rural and urban drivers: "This isn't to say that rural drivers are necessarily 'worse' at driving, but a mix of confidence and increased risk, with higher speeds, darker roads and unseen hazards, are generally more common on rural roads leading to increased risk of collision."

The report suggests an urgent need for better education for young rural drivers, especially in the first year after obtaining their licence. Nearly 40% of these drivers reported having an accident or near miss, of which 20% were in the first year after passing their test. A particular problem appears to be the confidence of these drivers, with 30% claiming to know their local roads 'like the back of their hands.' This overconfidence is combined with a belief that they are less likely to be caught speeding, due to the comparative scarcity of traffic police.
 

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