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Motor Mouth articles 2012

Dorset a blackspot for young motorists

DORSET has emerged as a shock blackspot for young drivers involved in road crashes.

We’ve long known that drivers in their teens and 20s are the most likely group to be involved in a collision but now a study has found that those living in rural areas are the most at risk – with Dorset among the worst.

Of 379 local authority areas in Britain, two from Dorset figure in the top 10 of the high-risk league table: North Dorset fourth and East Dorset tenth. The worst in the country, incidentally, is the South Holland district of Lincolnshire.

The research has been carried out by Road Safety Analysis, specialists in examining casualty trends, and it reveals how risk levels for young drivers vary according to where they live. Those living in rural areas are 37% more likely to be involved in injury collisions than their urban counterparts. The five areas of lowest risk are all in London.

Younger drivers are known to be far more likely to be involved in an accident than older motorists. Some 30% of crash drivers are under 29, yet this age group makes up only 18% of the population – hardly surprising, you might think, considering the hormone-fuelled approach of many new drivers and their lack of experience.

One of the biggest factors in the raised risk profile of rural drivers is the much higher average mileages they cover, with 31% more miles driven per person than those living in towns and cities. Bendy roads and poor public transport doubtless add to the problem.

“This is a signal to rural local authorities and police forces that special attention needs paying to this subject,” say the report’s authors.

The study also looks at whether the level of social deprivation is a factor in young driver crashes and while this was not found to be the case in rural areas, it is something seen in large towns and cities.

Road Safety Analysis director Dan Campsall says: “This is the first time that we have had a thorough examination of the risks to young drivers based on where they live, and the results are stark.

“We need to see a package of measures developed that can bring about a change. This may require investment in transport infrastructure, community bus schemes and further driver training.

“With the help of this sort of information, local authorities can develop a much better understanding of the risks experienced by their residents and road users, helping them to address the inequalities that many people are experiencing.”

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