Decade of Carnage

AA charity renews young driver safety campaign

15 January 2010

The AA is asking motorists to spare a thought for the families of more than 4,200 young drivers who failed to see out the first decade of the millennium due to fatal accidents over the last 10 years1.

  • 4,200 young drivers failed to see out first decade of millennium due to fatal crashes
  • Young casualties reached 440,000 over 10 years – equal to population of Bristol
  • AA charity to extend free Drive Smart courses for at-risk new drivers in 2010

Official figures reveal that more than 40,000 drivers aged 29 or younger – equal to the population of Salisbury – have been killed or seriously injured on UK roads since 2000. Some 11,700 of these were teenagers.

Taking in all deaths and injuries, the toll reached over 440,000 – equal to the population of a major city such as Bristol, Edinburgh or Sheffield – including more than 110,000 teenagers.

Renewed commitment

Revealing the figures to mark the turn of the decade, the AA Charitable Trust has renewed its commitment to tackling young driver road deaths in 2010, by extending its successful Drive Smart programme offering free safe/eco driver training to drivers 'most at risk'2.

Since its launch a year ago, Drive Smart has helped hundreds of young people to become safer, more fuel-efficient drivers.

Of respondents to a survey of 2009 course participants, only 2 per cent have gone on to have an accident or traffic offence after completing the course. All had had at least one accident or traffic offence in the 12 months before attending the course.


The charity's director and AA President Edmund King says: "The last decade has been marked by tragedy for too many families, with 4,200 young drivers killed and the equivalent of whole cities of young casualties. Though road deaths and injuries generally are decreasing, the toll among young drivers is still too high.

"The AA Charitable Trust's New Year's resolution is to keep tackling the teenage road carnage in 2010, by extending the free Drive Smart programme. Many new drivers fall victim to a lack of driving experience or the wrong attitude. Drive Smart is proven to help those at risk to become safer, wiser and greener drivers – and to save money through more economical driving."

New drivers

Developed specifically for new drivers, Drive Smart training involves two hour-long sessions with a fully-qualified instructor from AA Driving School. The initiative, which has the support of transport ministers, focuses on improving safety as well as 'eco-driving' techniques to cut fuel consumption.

Police schemes

The AA Charitable Trust has schemes with Police which see a number of forces identify young drivers whose records suggests they are a danger to themselves and others, and put them forward for Drive Smart courses.

New drivers can also put themselves forward, or be put forward by parents, for free Drive Smart courses, at:


Feedback from new drivers who took Drive Smart training in 2009, includes:

  • 94% of respondents rated their instructor as very good or good
  • Only 2% have since gone on to have an accident or traffic offence. All had had at least one in the 12 months before taking the course. On average, 20% of all new drivers have a crash in the first year after passing their test
  • 86% said they had improved their fuel consumption as a result of taking the course
  • 89% would recommend Drive Smart to a friend or family member
  • "If everyone took this course the roads would be a much better place to be" – Drive Smart participant, 2009

Decade of Carnage – New Driver Fact File

In the 10 years since the turn of the millennium:

  • More than 4,200 young drivers, including 1360 teenagers, have died in road accidents
  • Over 40,000 drivers aged 29 or younger – equal to the population of the city of Salisbury – were killed or seriously injured. 11,700 of these were teenagers
  • When taking in all deaths and injuries, the toll was over 440,000 – equal to the population of a major centre such as Bristol, Edinburgh or Sheffield – of which 110,000 were teenagers
  • One in five new drivers had a crash within 12 months of passing their test
  • Under 25s were three times as likely per licence holder to have a drink-drive accident
  • Young drivers were 10 times more likely to be involved in a serious collision than more experienced drivers
  • Newly qualified drivers and their passengers accounted for one in five of all car deaths
  • Teenagers were more likely to die on the roads than from stabbings or drugs. Eighty per cent of accidental teenage deaths happened on roads

1 Source: Department for Transport annual statistics 2000-2008. Figures for 2009 were projected from interim statistics, giving a ten-year death toll of 4,258 among drivers aged 29 and under.

2 The charity's first target is new drivers 'most at risk', which the Department for Transport advises is those who have passed their test in the last 12 months have had an accident or points on their licence.

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19 January 2010