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Driving Now Kills More Young People than Anything Else.

Statistics show that newly-qualified seventeen-year-olds are amongst the most dangerous group of drivers on the road – apparently a fifth will have an accident in their first year, and drivers aged 17-25 years cause one in three of all road deaths. So it's not really surprising that insurance companies shudder at the thought of taking them on at all – and if they do, hike their prices way up.

Even more frightening is the fact these young drivers don't realise just how dangerous they are – they've passed their test, got their licence, Dad's forked out to put them on the insurance (with a gulp at the price!) and off they go in Dad's car, completely oblivious to their total lack of experience, co-ordination, skill and, probably most importantly, any vestige of caution. Some drivers never really do acquire the skill, although if they live long enough to become experienced, they usually develop enough caution in the process that they don't kill themselves or anyone else. Usually. At seventeen, safety, theirs or anyone else's, isn't even a consideration, and the Government has confirmed that driving is now the single biggest cause of UK young people's deaths.

Two recent BBC3 documentaries have covered this problem - 'Barely Legal Drivers', which followed new drivers on the road, and Sophie Morgan's 'Licence to Kill', which amongst other things, took several newly passed youngsters and tested them in mocked-up situations at training centres – and both just showed how little prepared these kids are to be in control of a couple of tons of metal at high speed on a public road.

So what can be done about these situations, both the bad driving displayed by most youngsters and the ferociously high prices the insurance companies charge to all youngsters because of it?

The Government is considering several options such as restricting passengers, implementing a curfew and/or extending the period when more than six points will result in the withdrawing of the licence, and these may help. Probably a better option is the new 'black box' technology that records how a person drives; youngsters who allow this and prove they are better drivers than the majority of their age group could earn themselves a reduction in their premium that way.

However, the 'Licence to Kill' documentary had an interesting effect on the young participants, in that they were extremely shaken by how badly they did and as a result, a little caution began to appear. Sophie herself noted that most catastrophic accidents happen because the young driver misjudges what needs doing in a dangerous situation, often under bad conditions, loses control of the car and doesn't know what to do to get control back. Not surprising, really - these skills are not required for the test, so they are not taught.

Perhaps the simplest answer would be that learning how not to lose control, and how to regain it if it is lost, *should* be required as part of the test. Something to think about, at least.

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