GWENT has the second highest proportion of young drivers involved in fatal and serious road accidents in the UK, new research has shown.
For the first time the human cost of crashes involving young drivers has been plotted across Britain, finding significant regional variations with Gwent having the second highest proportion of injuries as a result of a crash involving a teenage driver.
Research found recently qualified drivers, particularly teenagers, face a disproportionate risk of being involved in a tragic accident that may involve death or serious injury, not only to themselves but also to their passengers and other road users.
The RAC Foundation found that between 2008 and 2012 there were on average 188,368 people injured in car accidents every year. It says that 22,391 of those, or one in every eight drivers, were hurt as a result of a crash involving a 17 to 19 year old driver.
This means 11.9 per cent of all those who are are hurt or killed in collisions involves a car driver aged 17-19, despite 17-19 year-olds making up only 1.5 per cent of licensed drivers.
However, the proportion of casualties is highest in Dyfed Powys at almost one in five or 18.2 per cent, closely followed by Gwent at 17 per cent, 6.1 per cent higher than the national average.
London had the smallest proportion at just 5.6 per cent.
The research was carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory, in a report commissioned by the RAC Foundation.
TRL also made a conservative estimate of what the reduction in casualties would be in each area if a system of graduated driving licensing (GDL) was introduced.
It found in Gwent it would mean 40 fewer casualties a year and save eight people from fatal or serious injuries, saving £1.4 million a year in social and economic benefits.
Based on the experience of other countries where GDL is in operation, the report authors concluded that across Britain about 4,500 fewer people would be hurt in an average year, including 430 people who would otherwise have been killed or seriously injured.
Among other possible requirements like a minimum learner period and lower alcohol limit for new drivers, GDL schemes typically place temporary restrictions on newly qualified young drivers in the first few months after they pass their tests, like a passenger limit and a late night curfew.
Currently one in five young drivers will have an accident within six months of passing their test.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Young drivers pose a significant and disproportionate risk to themselves and to others and it is in rural areas where the casualty rate is highest.
“We should all have an interest in preserving young drivers’ lives rather than exposing them to undue risk at the stage of their driving careers where they are most vulnerable. This is about ensuring their long term safety and mobility, not curtailing it. ”
Gwent Police’s Roads Policing Superintendent Paul Evans said: “Statistically, young drivers fall into a high risk category of those more likely to be involved in a collision.
“In an effort to raise awareness and improve road safety amongst young drivers, officers from our Roads Policing Unit carry out regular campaigns with our partner agencies.
“It is a tragedy when anyone is killed in a road traffic collision."