Young drivers who live and learn to drive in rural locations are 44% more likely to be injured in a collision than their urban counterparts, according to research commissioned by the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs.

The results mean that young rural drivers aged between 17-26 are even more at risk of being injured or killed on the road than previously thought – an earlier research study calculated the increased risk at 37%.

Crash fact

  • Between 2007 and 2011, 8,227 young rural drivers were involved in collisions where someone was either killed or seriously injured

The report also shed some light on the unique “cocktail of factors” that puts this particular demographic at such high risk, including:

Darkness

Young rural drivers are 63% more likely to be involved in a collision in the dark

Bends

They are 52% more likely to be involved in a collision on a bend

Loss of control

They are 28% more likely to lose control of their vehicle

Wet roads

They are 16% more likely to have a collision on a wet road surface

Young rural drivers are also more likely to risk drink driving, as the study showed they are nearly two-thirds (60%) more likely to provide a positive breath test at the time of the collision.

Dan Campsell from Road Safety Analysis (RSA) who carried out the study said: “The research provides clear evidence that our rural young people are experiencing real inequality from the effect of road traffic crashes. These events devastate close-knit communities and destroy the promising futures of too many young lives.”

Mr Campsell says the research should act as a “challenge” to government, communities and families to help protect young drivers.

To help facilitate this, the report made a number of recommendations.

These include graduated driving licenses, rural-specific driving tests, community based transport schemes, black boxes fitted to cars to monitor speed and ‘alcolocks’ – alcohol testers which can immobilise vehicles.

“The NFYFC would like to see the introduction of rural roads within the driving test and for more rural communities to provide wider transport options for young people in their local area,” said Milly Wastie.

“We must work together to tackle road safety and to save lives.”The report is the most detailed study to date of young drivers who live in rural communities and was conducted across England, Scotland and Wales.

For more on this topic

Find out more about the NFYFC’s Drive It Home road safety campaign plus read potentially life-saving advice

Read personal experiences of the devastation that road accidents can bring to families on our rural road safety page