AA Charitable Trust

Caitlin’s Message

Car passenger killed almost 5 years ago sends out her safety message to new drivers

25 May 2022

July and August are the most likely months for young driver crashes on rural roads, according to the AA Trust, who are campaigning with a mother whose 18-year-old daughter, Caitlin, died in a crash almost five years ago, to remind new drivers and their parents of these dangers.

The risks young drivers face on rural roads is easy to under-estimate. Many young drivers and their parents are unaware of the significant and specific risks these roads pose.

Research from the AA Charitable Trust, which analysed more than 70,000 young, rural driver crashes over a six-year period, shows 71% of fatal car crashes involving young drivers take place on rural roads.

Sharron Huddleston, Caitlin’s mother, and Edmund King, AA president, will jointly present ‘Caitlin’s Message’ to an important road safety conference today* (25/05/22).

The research also found:

  • July, August, October and November are the most concerning months for crashes involving young drivers on rural roads
  • Proportion of crashes involving young drivers which are on Sundays is 9% higher on rural roads than on urban roads
  • Single vehicle collisions account for 27% of all young driver crashes on rural roads compared to 15% for drivers of all ages.
  • Substance impairment factor in 9% of young rural driver crashes on Sundays compared to 4% on all other days

Caitlins message

Caitlin Huddleston was just 18 when she tragically died in a car crash on the A595 in Cumbria on the 14 July 2017. She was a passenger in the car, driven by her friend, who also lost her life.

Her friend was driving them to a local Italian restaurant for dinner when the car collided with a van. Neither driver was speeding but the road was wet. The coroner put the crash down to the inexperience of the newly qualified driver. The third occupant of the car and van driver were both severely injured in the crash.

Caitlin's mother, Sharron Huddleston, has campaigned for road safety for young and novice drivers and their passengers since losing Caitlin. She said she was not aware at the time of the crash that rural roads were especially dangerous. In fact, just a few months before the crash she was concerned about Caitlin travelling with friends on a motorway journey. Sadly, she didn't think there was a need to be concerned about the journey the girls were making on the evening of the crash, as the girls were just travelling on local roads.

Sharron Huddleston said: "We are honoured that the AA Trust has chosen Caitlin to be the symbol of this rural roads campaign. I hope the 'Caitlin's Message’ which is targeted at new drivers and their parents will make them think twice about their safety particularly on rural roads.

"I know Caitlin would want me to raise awareness in her memory, to try to help stop what happened to her, happening to any other young innocent people. This is what we are trying to do through 'Caitlin's Message'.”

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Many young drivers and indeed parents are unaware that rural roads pose a specific and significant risk to young drivers and potentially are much more dangerous than motorways or urban roads. 71% of fatal car crashes involving young drivers take place on rural roads.

“Our data clearly shows that the rural road risk is highest for the youngest drivers on our roads and decreases with each year of age. This is a clear sign greater education and exposure to rural roads helps alleviate the risks they pose.

“Caitlin’s Message is a safety message from the grave but a message that her mother bravely wants to spread to prevent others experiencing the same tragedy.”

The interactive map can be found here. Keeping Young Drivers Safe On Rural Roads

Call to action:
  • New drivers to get more experience driving on rural roads before going out alone.
  • Need graduated learning with a logbook for driving lessons to cover driving on all types of roads, at different times of the day, and in different weather conditions.
  • Greater emphasis on rural roads in theory and practical driving test.
  • Deter new drivers from taking young passengers for six months after passing their test.
  • Campaign to raise awareness amongst drivers and parents of the dangers.
  • Interactive map to be used as a Think! educational resource for schools.
  • Raise awareness that those growing up in rural areas are more at risk on the roads than their urban counterparts.

* Young Driver Focus 2022 conference will be held at 89 Pall mall, London on 25th May 2022

* The dataset behind the research covers six years of crash data (2013-2018). Analysts at Agilysis and the Road Safety Foundation studied 74,919 young drivers involved in crashes of all injury severities on a rural road.