Shropshire Star

Young drivers are targeted to bring down numbers killed on rural roads

A campaign has been launched aimed at reducing the number of young male drivers killed on rural roads.

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The Department for Transport said its new Think! initiative encourages young motorists to slow down by asking them to consider "Is pushing it worth it?".

A Shropshire safer roads campaigner, Councillor Roy Aldcroft said he hoped young drivers would think before they ended up in A&E or someone was visiting their gravestone.

The campaign highlights that speeding leaves 54 young people dead or injured every week in the UK, with casualty figures showing male drivers aged 17-24 are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than drivers aged 25 or over.

Three out of five crashes in which young male car drivers die or suffer a serious injury, happen on rural roads.

Road safety minister Richard Holden said Think! research shows young men underestimate the risks of driving just a few miles per hour over the appropriate speed for the road conditions.

Market Drayton town councillor, Roy Aldcroft is part of the 'A41 Action Group', which involves parishes along the stretch of road running through Newport, Tern Hill and Whitchurch.

The aim of the group is to come up with a solution to reduce the number of accidents which occur on the A41 – to prevent long-term injuries and fatalities.

He said anything that would cut down the number of accidents on rural roads had to be welcomed.

"Many of the most serious accidents on the A41 and A53 have unfortunately involved young, inexperienced motorists," he said.

"They have to remember that they are in control of a vehicle weighing a quarter of a tonne. If all goes wrong it is often not just the car that is damaged but themselves and other road users.

"It is too late when someone is visiting you in A&E or visiting your gravestone."

Councillor Aldcroft said there had also been cases where there had been no collision but a driver losing control and going off the road.

"I don't want any driver to have the guilt of knowing that they have killed or serious injured someone - to have to live with that all their life," he added.

Richard Holden MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport said: "Road safety is our priority, but we want to accelerate our efforts to tackle unsafe driving habits and create some of the safest roads in the world.

"We're highlighting the dangers of relaxed driving attitudes on rural roads so that everyone recognises that pushing the speed limit is just not worth it."

Dr Gemma Briggs, professor of applied cognitive psychology at the Open University, said most drivers consider themselves to have "better than average" skills behind the wheel so can "handle a bit of extra speed", but young people have the "added problem of a lack of driving experience".

She added: "They can't rely on their previous experience to understand driving situations, so adding other elements to this, such as additional speed, increases the likelihood of young drivers failing to notice hazards and being involved in a collision."

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: "We know speeding presents a clear and present road safety danger, particularly on country roads where the number of collisions is much greater.

"We also know that far too many young people are injured or killed every year in car accidents, so hopefully this campaign can bring about some much-needed behavioural change among the nation's least experienced drivers which helps to keep everyone safe on our rural roads."

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