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Young Aussies fail to see road dangers right under their nose

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Media Release

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Young Australians are more likely than other age groups to think the biggest road safety concerns for P-plate drivers are outside of their car and not in it, according to new research released during National Youth Week (April 4-13).

Slater and Gordon motor vehicle accident lawyer Genevieve Henderson said the firm’s research of 2,000 Australians showed young people (aged 16 to 24 years) were less likely to identify factors inside the car as safety hazards for a probationary driver.

“These internal factors included talking on a phone while driving – 25 per cent of young people ranked this as the biggest danger facing P-platers compared to 40 per cent of all ages – their own speeding (22 per cent versus 29 per cent) and distracting passengers (14 per cent versus 17 per cent).

“Younger people also tended to underestimate the dangers to P-platers of drug driving (26 per cent, compared to 28 per cent of all Australians) and texting while driving (44 per cent versus 47 per cent).

“These results showed that young people are still grappling with emerging issues like mobile phone use and driving while drugged, and that our relevant road safety campaign messages or even the risks of penalties are yet to sink in.”

Ms Henderson said younger respondents were more likely than older Australians to think some of the biggest risks to P-platers were outside the car.

“For example they ranked drivers who hoon (31 per cent v 28 per cent), other motorists driving dangerously (9 per cent versus 6 per cent) and being a victim of road rage by another driver (7 per cent versus 3 per cent) higher than the respondents of other ages,” Ms Henderson said.

“What our findings suggest is that young people may be lacking self-awareness about their own actions behind the wheel, with many of them believing that driving dangers are external to them and that other motorists are to blame.

“The sad fact is that Australia’s young drivers are over-represented in serious road crash statistics. They make up just 14 per cent of all licence holders, but are involved in about 25 per cent of serious incidents*.

“While drivers of any age should look carefully at their behaviour on the roads, the sense of invincibility assumed by some young drivers, coupled with their limited experience, can be a dangerous mix.

“It is clear that young drivers benefit from support and education, particularly from an early age, to minimise their risky behaviours.

“As a community we must focus on continuing to raise awareness and instilling safe attitudes and behaviours in young drivers.”

Ms Henderson said in other key findings, drink driving was identified by more than half (54 per cent) of all Australians as the number one danger to P-platers, but it was rated even higher by respondents aged between 16 and 24 years (63 per cent).

“Key results showed that young people were far more concerned than other ages about the dangers to P-platers of driving under the influence of alcohol,” Ms Henderson said.

“This could be proof that our younger generations are heeding long running warnings around drink driving, warnings which they would have been exposed to throughout their entire life.”

*Source: Australian Transport Council – National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020