AA Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment

Free driver training to reduce teenage road carnage

17 January 2009

AA drive smart course banner

In 2007, 138 teenage drivers were killed on the roads compared to 42 teenagers stabbed to death last year.

Only one in six are confident that drivers are adequately prepared to drive on the roads after passing their test, according to an AA Populus poll of 8,110 members. Young drivers most at risk of crashing are to be given free driver training, courtesy of the new Automobile Association Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment launched today.

90% of AA Members underestimate the risk teenagers in cars face compared to higher-profile threats, such as drugs, drinking and gun and knife crime, research for the AA reveals. This is despite the fact that 80% of accidental teenage deaths happen on roads1.

The first target of the AA Charitable Trust is new drivers 'most at risk' – the Department for Transport advised that it is those who have passed their test in the last 12 months and have had an accident or points on their licence.

In the first instance, 2,000 totally free eco-safe driver training packages called 'Drive Smart' (two one-hour sessions with a fully-qualified AA driving instructor) designed specifically for the Charity to help new drivers will be offered.

The Government's long-awaited consultation on new drivers 'Learning to drive' ended in October 2008. The government has not yet published its response to the consultation. They have ruled many things out, but are likely to suggest improvements to the driving test and better training. In the meantime, 2,000 new drivers will be able to benefit from the AA Charitable Trust's free training.

New driver fact file

  • 20% of new drivers have a crash within 12 months of passing their test.
  • In 2007, 1086 drivers under 20yrs of age were killed or seriously injured – and 1426 aged 20 - 24 were also killed or seriously injured.
  • The majority were male. 821 under 20s and 1025 20–24s were male.
  • 138 drivers aged under 20 died and 258 drivers aged 20–29 also died.
  • Under 25s are also three times as likely per licence holder to have a drink-drive accident.
  • A young driver is 10 times more likely to be involved in a serious collision than a more experienced driver.
  • Newly qualified drivers and their passengers account for one in five of all car deaths.

AA/Populus survey results (8110 respondents)

  • Only one in six respondents (17%) were confident that drivers were adequately prepared to drive on the roads after passing their test, although this was highest among 18–24 year olds where 37% either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that newly passed drivers had received adequate preparation.
  • Three quarters of panellists (76%) agreed that new drivers should be taught 'eco-driving', including most 18–24 year olds (73%).
  • Two thirds (66%) of panellists said they would be interested in receiving a free 'eco-driving' lesson that would also include additional safety training.
  • 7% of panellists said they had been involved in a traffic accident in the last 12 months, with 18–24 year olds the most likely to have said this (13%).
  • 83% of AA panellists indicated that they had a clean driving licence, with 13% saying that they had 3 points.

New drivers wishing to register for the free training or parents who wish to register teenagers should go to www.theaa.com/drive-smart


Commenting on the establishment of the Trust, John Davies, AA Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment chairman said, "The AA has a long history of charitable work and indeed working to help young drivers.

"Safety and the environment are two of the biggest issues facing drivers today and we wanted to do our bit to help new drivers most at risk particularly during this credit crunch."

The Charity's Director and AA President, Edmund King, said; "Teenagers are more likely to die on the roads than from stabbings or drugs. This is often due to lack of driving experience or the wrong attitude. We believe that the free Drive Smart training will help those drivers most at risk become safer, wiser and greener drivers. The training not only helps safer driving but there will be financial benefits too from more economical driving."


115–19 year olds, from 'Deaths: by age and gender, from all causes, all accidental deaths and all road deaths: 2005', Road Casualties Great Britain 2006, Department for Transport.

Populus interviewed 18,524 AA members online between 23 May and 2 June 2008.

Only one in 10 of 18,500 respondents to the AA/Populus survey of AA Members see driving as the biggest source of danger for teenagers.

However, while older respondents say drugs and drinking are the main threats, gun and knife crime is seen as the greatest menace by the younger generations themselves, Londoners and lower-income respondents.

Overall, the survey found the greatest risks to the safety of teenagers were thought to be:

  • drugs 31%
  • drinking 25%
  • gun and knife crime 25%
  • driving 11%
  • smoking 4%
  • sex 1%
  • disease less than 1%, and
  • other 2%

Join the discussion in the AA zone


17 January 2009

The Automobile Association Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment. Registered charity no. 1125119