The AA Charitable Trust
Road safety and a cleaner environment
(UK charity no. 1125119)
The AA Charitable Trust for Road Safety and The Environment (UK charity no. 1125119) was registered on 22 July 2008.
We work towards the preservation and protection of human life and health by the prevention of personal injury to, and death of, individuals on roads and in motor vehicles in the United Kingdom.
We aim to launch one major new initiative each year.
Our trustees are:
- Edmund King OBE, Director
- Mark Born
- Samantha Ladley
- Donald MacSporran
- Keith Miller
- Louise Pennell
- Ria Purser
- Tony Rich
Rural Young Drivers
The AA Charitable Trust was awarded a grant from the Road Safety Trust towards completing a project raising awareness of the risks young drivers face on rural roads, with a specific focus on which roads pose the greatest risk.
The campaign aimed to:
- Create and deliver an awareness campaign that informs young drivers about dangers specifically posed in rural areas.
- Inform young drivers, driving instructors and parents in identified ‘hotspots’ about the dangers facing young drivers in those areas – and how they can help mitigate them.
- Raise awareness of the dangers of rural drivers amongst the general driving population
The Trust worked with analysts at Agilysis through the Road Safety Foundation to map the risk on rural roads based on six years’ worth of crash data.
The research is summarised in this REPORT
The map can be viewed here: AA Young Rural Drivers
The campaign was launched in May 2021 with a national media story
See the AA's Motoring News pages for the latest updates
For more information about the dangers of rural roads visit our advice page HERE
The next stage of the AA Charitable Trust’s Young Rural Drivers’ campaign will focus on Caitlin Huddleston, who tragically died in a car crash on the A595 in Cumbria when she was just 18.
Caitlin’s life will be celebrated in a one-hour long radio programme, Caitlin’s Hour, A Late-Night Show to Remember on Sunday June 6th. It will run across Kerrang! Radio and Hits Radio Network regional radio stations between 2am and 3am – a time the AA Trust research has pinpointed represents a significant risk to young drivers on rural roads, particularly for crashes involving fatigue or substance impairment.
It’s estimated that up to 25% of fatal accidents are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel, so in November 2018 the AA Charitable Trust launched a campaign highlighting the dangers of drowsy driving.
The campaign aims to:
- Highlight the problem of drowsy driving
- Educate drivers on what action to take if they become tired when driving
- Provide supportive information to drivers about how they can improve their sleep
Research*carried out for the campaign launch shows:
- One in eight (13%) UK drivers admit to falling asleep at the wheel
- Nearly two fifths (37%) say they have been so tired they have been scared they would fall asleep when driving
- Men (17%) are three times as likely as women (5%) to say they have fallen asleep at the wheel
- Young drivers, aged 18-to-24, are the most likely to say being very tired does not affect their driving ability (13% compared to 2% of all drivers).
- Young drivers are also the most likely age group to say they normally carry on regardless if they feel tired while driving (18% compared to 3% of all drivers).
The campaign features a thought-provoking advert, created by Adam&EveDDB, designed to wake drivers up to the dangers of fatigue.
* AA-Populus motoring panel survey, 11-17 September 2018. 20,561 respondents
The AA Trust has launched the first ever Drive Electric course, free of charge and specifically geared to those who want to get the best out of driving electric vehicles (EVs).
The announcement was made by Edmund King OBE, Chairman of the AA Trust at the launch of the Electric Vehicle Experience Centre (EVEC) in Milton Keynes on 20 July 2017.
Edmund King, AA Trust Chairman, said: “We want to help drivers understand this exciting new technology at the EV Experience Centre but we also want to help them get the most out of their electric cars.
“Drive Electric sessions, conducted by AA instructors, can either be carried out in the driver’s own electric car, or in one of the EV Experience Centre’s test drive fleet. The EV Experience and Drive Electric experiences will really put Milton Keynes on the map as the most go-to EV City in the World.”
About Drive Electric
The session introduces participants to electric cars, driving techniques and how to obtain the best and most economical performance.
- Connecting and disconnecting to a charge point
- Introduction to controls
- Energy consumption displays
- Charge rate and range
- Eco features including ‘B’ and ‘Eco’ modes and remote climate control
- On the road driving techniques including using regenerative braking and the most economical use of available energy
- Finding and using suitable charge points including long journey planning and different types of charging point
Bookings for a session, which is free-of-charge, should be made through the Milton Keynes Electric Vehicle Experience Centre.
25 July 2017
In November 2016 the AA Trust started a year long campaign to try to change attitudes and behaviours around driver distraction.
The campaign kicked off with the launch of a new film, 'Cadence'. A young film-maker became so uncomfortable by her peers’ driving and use of mobiles at the wheel that she has produced a film with a safety twist, thanks to funding from the AA Charitable Trust.
In the next phase of the campaign, and timed to coincide with the increase in penalties for hand-held mobile phone offences on 1 March 2017, the AA Charitable Trust and Think! are raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving with a new ad by adam&eveDDB to be shown in cinemas, video on demand, and online.
The ad highlights the danger of texting whilst driving with a narrative that follows a couple leaving a nightclub: the woman, who is the designated driver for her intoxicated boyfriend, starts to reply to a text as they start their journey. The boyfriend notices and suggests they swap places, in a move that makes a bold statement on the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving.
In March 2014, we launched a national 'Think Bikes!' awareness campaign with support from British Cycling and The Motorcycle Industry Association.
One million stickers
Initially one million free stickers were distributed to drivers as a reminder to do a ‘double-take’ in their mirrors for cycles and motorcycles in their blind spots. It's proposed that the cycle sticker is placed on the passenger’s side and the motorcycle one on the driver’s side.
Free stickers can be picked up from all Halfords outlets and will also be distributed by the police and directly to breakdown-cover members in renewal and joining packs.
The original sticker concept came from Tony Rich, AA Patrol of the Year, after his friend, Jack Bellis, was killed in a motorcycle crash. Tony and Jack’s family wanted to do something to help prevent such crashes in the future.
The campaign was launched on Friday 7 March at Marble Arch, London, with the help of famous Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman, 20 times TT winner John McGuinness and with support from the Metropolitan Police.
For the AA, Think Bikes! is part of its ongoing commitment to improve road safety for all road users and forms part of the 'New Deal' for road users the organisation is championing; where all road users agree to stick to the rules of the road and treat each other with respect.
Those on two wheels never appear from nowhere
According to Edmund King, AA president and Director of the AA Charitable Trust: “The AA Think Bikes! campaign is definitely needed when AA-Populus research shows that half of drivers are often surprised when a cyclist or motorcyclist ‘appears from nowhere’. Those on two wheels never appear from nowhere so as drivers we need to be more alert to other road users and this is where our stickers act as a daily reminder. Likewise riders need to be aware that they may not always be spotted by drivers. We hope that this campaign can reach the parts that other campaigns can’t reach."
AA's 'Think Bikes' goes global
The award-winning UK road safety initiative, which encourages all drivers to do a double-take in their mirrors for those on two wheels, is being rolled out globally by the FIA, the world motoring organisation.
It now has the potential to reach millions more drivers across the 111 FIA motoring clubs in the region.
Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: "We are so proud of how well received the campaign has been in its first year and are delighted by this latest development.
"To think that our campaign has already gone global so early in its life is fantastic and I hope it is as successful abroad as it has been here."
Award winning campaign
Think Bikes! has won the following awards:
Our Drive Smart course offers free eco-safe driver-training packages.
We aim to help new drivers 'most at risk' who have passed their driving test in the last twelve months and had an accident or have points on their licence.
- 20% of new drivers have a crash within 12 months of passing their test.
- A young driver is 10 times more likely to be involved in a serious collision than a more experienced driver.
- Teenagers are more likely to die on the roads than from stabbings or drugs.
Drive Smart was launched in January 2009, initially to offer 2,000 totally free eco-safe driver training packages (two one-hour sessions with a fully-qualified AA driving instructor) designed specifically for us to help new drivers.
Supported by transport ministers, Drive Smart focuses on improving safety as well as 'eco-driving' techniques to cut fuel consumption.
We work closely with a number of partners, including some police forces, to promote 'Drive Smart' – Greater Manchester, North Wales and Northamptonshire police were the first on board.
In police forces running the scheme, new drivers stopped and cautioned or charged with offences such as not wearing a seatbelt or using a mobile phone while driving are written to by the police force and encouraged to apply for Drive Smart courses.
We continue to work closely with police forces that have expressed an interest in Drive Smart, and with other potential partners.
Read more and apply for a Drive Smart course.
Drive confident offers free guided tuition and practice for qualified drivers lacking confidence.
If you're a qualified driver who'd like refresher driver training to increase your confidence on the road, you could be eligible for free training with one of our qualified driving instructors.
Our course offers two hours (two one-hour slots, or one two-hour slot) free guided tuition and practice for qualified drivers who lack confidence in some areas of driving, or who might need some refresher training.
The in-car sessions include an initial assessment followed by guided practice and coaching. An accompanying workbook supports the in-car sessions.
If you have a full licence and have returned to driving after not driven for a long time, then this could help you.
Some concerns or difficulties can be:
- driving at night or in heavy rain/fog
- driving in heavy traffic or rush-hour conditions
- driving on motorways or dual carriageways
- busy junctions/traffic lights
Read more and apply for a Drive Confident course.
Motorways carry 21% of the traffic but account for just 5.4% of fatalities which makes them safer than other types of roads. However, motorway-phobia is increasing as a growing number who do not understand the new ‘smart’ motorways join those drivers who have always been petrified of motorways.
According to research from the AA Populus motoring panel:
- Almost half of motorists know friends or family who avoid driving on motorways.
- More than one in 10 women say that they themselves avoid driving on motorways due to nerves.
- A quarter of drivers are even nervous when they know that family or friends are making a journey on a motorway.
To help drivers overcome their fears, we offer 2,000 free Drive Motorway two-hour courses.Read more and apply for a Drive Motorway course.
Young drivers at risk
Nigel Mansell helped launch a joint AA Charitable Trust and Make Roads Safe report into young driver safety at the Silverstone Classic on 20 July 2012.
The report reveals the ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances surrounding drivers’ first accidents.
Key findings of the report centre on a survey of motorists on the AA-Populus panel who have been involved in car crashes.
Drivers revealed that nearly 40% of them had crashed by the time they were 23 years old.
The results also show that a quarter (26%) had crashed within two years of gaining their licence.
Read the Young drivers at risk (PDF) report.
We were awarded a grant through the FIA Road Safety Grant Programme to fund:
- Around 4,000 hours of free Drive Confident and Drive Smart courses.
- Customer research of course participants.
- The development of a template to help other FIA member clubs roll-out similar schemes.
Feedback from participants in the UK shows the availability of free refresher courses for qualified drivers has a real impact on their ability to drive safely and competently.
We hope the template will encourage other clubs to improve the standard of driving in their country by developing similar courses.
The template gives guidance on how to develop similar schemes.
Download the template as a PDF.
Drive for opportunity
Typically, learning to drive is something young people only get the chance to do with the support of their parents, or other immediate family members.
But the freedom driving brings can help young people get a job, travel to work, build an independent life and manage their own social arrangements – vital steps for all young people, but particularly for those in care who may struggle to feel in control over their own lives.
Drive for opportunity set out to provide driving lessons for four teenagers within the Bristol care system.
The pilot project was a collaboration between the AA Charitable Trust and AA Driving School, Bristol City Council and Professor David Berridge from the School for Policy Studies at Bristol University.
The AA Trust funded the tuition, which was provided by AA Driving School instructors around Bristol and also monitored the progress of each participant. Bristol City Council provided additional support to the young people involved, through their care team.
A second stage was launched and three other councils joined the project and put forward young care leavers to take part. During this stage The AA Charitable Trust funded £8,000 of driving lessons with the AA Driving School.
Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “This project has been a real learning curve for us and has paved the way for us taking part in similar ventures again."
“Learning to drive is a life skill that many young people take for granted. It is difficult to fully appreciate how useful driving is, as teenagers make the transition to full independence. Driving is something most teenagers in care never get to experience and they are often the young people who need the most help to build a secure and independent future. "
(updated 10 May 2018)
Our trustees are considering a number of possible ideas for new initiatives in the future.
Motorcycles make up approximately 1% of traffic but account for 20% of fatalities
We are considering several options to tackle motorcycle safety including the possibility of providing support to 'bike safe' and 'scooter safe' schemes.
Half of drivers believe that drug driving is a more common problem than drink driving
Over 50,000 drivers a year would fail roadside 'drugalyzer' tests if such devices were being used by UK police forces.
We are considering creating a schools education programme to take the message of the dangers of drug driving to young people 16-18 years old.
We are pleased to receive ideas/proposals from our members for possible future schemes aligned with charitable objectives.
These include the preservation and protection of human life and health by the prevention of personal injury to, and death of, individuals on roads and in motor vehicles in the United Kingdom in particular but not exclusively through:
- Educating road users in road safety.
- Campaigning on issues of road safety.
- Promoting understanding and awareness of road safety and eco-driving to reduce environmental impact of motoring and to protect the environment.
Contact the AA Charitable Trust with any ideas for possible future initiatives or if you would like to make a donation.