Road safety charity Brake is calling for compulsory lessons on rural roads for learner drivers, as part of a graduated licensing system, to reduce fatalities and serious injuries.
In 2015, the last year for which statistics are available, 120 young drivers lost their lives in crashes – 80 per cent of these occurring on rural roads, 16 per cent on urban roads and four per cent on motorways. In the same year, there were 38 young car drivers listed as serious casualties or fatalities in West Sussex.
Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “High speeds, sharp bends, narrow lanes, risky overtaking and the presence of vulnerable road users, like cyclists, make rural roads the most dangerous by far. The combination of rural roads and novice drivers is lethal – a staggering 80 per cent of all young car driver fatalities occur in rural locations.
“Brake is calling for a total overhaul of the learning to drive system to help cut fatalities and injuries. A graduated licensing system, including a minimum learning period, mandatory training on rural roads and restrictions for newly-qualified drivers – such as a zero drink-drive limit – will allow new drivers to build up more skills and experience over a longer period of time.
“This approach has dramatically reduced road casualties in countries including Australia and New Zealand and could save some 400 lives a year if implemented in the UK.
“Brake is also calling for a review of rural speed limits and for ‘Voluntary Intelligent Speed Adaptation’, which helps drivers keep within the limit, to be fitted as standard to new cars. There is also the need for better and more affordable public transport, so fewer young people see starting driving in their teens as a necessity.” Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Main Results 2015, Department for Transport.