Did you know that only 13% of all licensed drivers in New South Wales are young drivers; aged between 17 and 25. Yet these young drivers are involved in more than a quarter of all fatal accidents on New South Wales roads.
Almost 1 in 5 or 18% of all speeding drivers involved in fatal car accidents in New South Wales between 2005 and 2009 were aged between 17 and 20 years of age, and 19% were aged 21 to 25 years old. Those numbers combined show us that 37% of all fatal car accidents in New South Wales involving speed between 2005 and 2009 involved young drivers. That means 37% of fatal speed related accidents involved a group of drivers that only make up 13% of all licensed drivers in the state.
Young drivers are most at risk in the first six months after gaining their Provisional 1 or Red P licences as they are more commonly known.
With such astonishing numbers is it at all surprising that measures have been put into place to help lower these numbers. The following restrictions have been put into place to protect young drivers, their passengers and all other road users.
Restrictions such as a zero blood alcohol level for all Provisional drivers. A total ban on all mobile phone use by Provisional drivers. Provisional drivers must display their L and P plates on the outside of their vehicles at all times. As well as passenger laws such as Provisional 1 drivers under the age of 25 only being legally allowed to carry one passenger under the age of 21 between the hours of 11pm and 5 am.
These young driver restrictions have been implemented on top of all of the current road rules in place to protect drivers in New South Wales.
With this presentation I aim to show you the impact that these young driver restrictions have had on New South Wales road safety.
Comparing the statistics from the period of 2008-2010 with the most recent statistic from the period of 2014-2016. This data shows that the number of fatalities of young drivers on New South Wales roads was 25% less in the years of 2014-2016 then in was in the years of 2008-2010. These numbers also show that all involvements of young drivers in fatal car accidents on New South Wales roads was 23% less in 2014-2016 then they were in 2008-2010.
Comparing the data from 2008-10 with that of 2014-16 in relation to young male drivers in particular the numbers of young male drivers in fatal car accidents was reduced from 18% to 15%.
In the data collected from 2014-2016 the number of illegal blood alcohol concentration in young drivers (not including motorcycle riders) involved in fatal car accidents was 52% lower than the number from the 2008-2010 data.
A snap shot of these statistics shows that of the 82 young drink drivers involved in fatal car accidents in 2008-2010, 10 of the drivers were female, while in the 2014-16 data 5 of the 39 young drivers involved in fatal accidents were female.
While these statistic only represent the fatalities, the number of young drivers; 17 to 25 years old, with an illegal blood alcohol concentration involved in non fatal accidents decreased by 37% from the 2008-2010 data to the 2014-2016 data.
Another major cause of road accidents in Australia is speeding. Australian Provisional drivers are given their own maximum speed limits depending on their level of provision. With L Plater’s only allowed to drive the maximum speed of 80kms/ph, Provisional P1 or Red P Plate drivers only allowed to drive a maximum speed of 90kms/ph, and Provisional 2 or Green P Plate drivers only allowed to drive a maximum speed of 100kms/ph.
The current data shows that the number of young drivers involved in fatal car accidents in the 2014-2016 data was 34% less than the number of young drivers involved in fatal car accidents in the 2008-2010 data.
The 2008-10 data shows that 147 young drivers were involved in fatal accidents in that time, with 25 of these drivers being female that is 17% of the drivers. The number of young drivers involved in fatal accidents where speed was a factor decreased to 97 in the data from the 2014-2016. Whilst the number of young driver fatalities as a result of speed decreased from 147 in 2008-2010 to 97 in the 2014-2016 data, female drivers still represented 25 of those drivers or 26% in total.
While the number of fatalities on our roads is more known, not all high speed accidents are fatal. The number of serious injuries has also decreased. The data shows that the number of speeding 17 to 25 year old’s involved in serious yet non fatal car accidents decreased by 8% from the 2008-2010 data to the 2014-2016 data. The numbers also show a decrease when highlighting just the sexes. In the 2008-10 data, 31% of the young speeding drivers involved in non fatal accidents were female while the number of female’s involved in non fatal car accidents in the 2014-16 data was down to 30%.
Fatigue and driver distraction also make up a large number of young driver fatalities on our roads. The total number of young drivers involved in fatal car accidents caused by fatigue or driver distraction actually increased by 6% from the 2008-2010 data to the 2014-2016 data.
In the 2008-2010 data, 6 of the 34 young fatigued or distracted drivers were female whilst in the 2014-2016; 3 of the 36 young fatigued or distracted drivers were female.
So while the number on a whole has increased by 6% the number of females in this statistic dropped from 33% to 32%.
With so many different facets to take into account when looking into fatigue and driver distractions it is almost impossible to determine why the number on a whole has increased. Young driver fatigue and distraction is something that still needs a lot of investigation into in order to better understand the individual statistical breakdowns.
If we want to see the number of young driver fatalities caused by fatigue or driver distraction decrease like we have seen with numbers of speeding and drink driving, we need to look into this element of young driver safety more comprehensively.
As the statistic into other facets of young driver safety has shown, young driver fatalities were 25% less across the board in the 2014-2016 data compared to the 2008-2010 data. With a 52% decrease in drink driving fatalities and a 34% decrease in speed related fatalities.
On the non fatal side of the coin the numbers show a 23% decrease across the board from the 2008-2010 data and the 2014-2016 data. With a decrease of 37% of young driver involvement in drink driving related non fatal accidents and an 8% decrease in young driver involvement in speed related non fatal car accidents.
As we know, young drivers are most at risk during their first six months of driving with inexperience, distracted driving, peer pressure and deliberate risk taking behaviours adding to the dangers they face on our roads.
With accident numbers reduced when a young driver has an adult in the car with them instead of a peer and with the data showing that we now have 25% less young driver fatalities and 23% less young drivers involved in fatal accidents, we are able to see the benefits of young driver restrictions on our road safety statistics in New South Wales.
While these restrictions may seem harsh; especially to the young drivers, the data clearly shows that they are working and isn’t that what we want. Safer roads, safer drivers and no more families torn apart by fatal car accidents, or lives forever changed by non fatal accidents.
Young Driver Restrictions may not be perfect, and we will probably never see a zero fatality road toll, but we have to do whatever we can to protect our young drivers. If one life is saved by these restrictions then I can’t see how they can be anything but a good thing.
If these restrictions mean one less cross on the side of the road or one less bunch of flowers tied to a telegraph poll then doesn’t that mean they are working?
All we can do is our best and the best we have right now is young driver restrictions and as you have seen today they are already reducing the number of young driver fatalities and that’s all we can hope for.