According to Goodyear youngsters still have a lot to learn about road safety

Across the last two years leading tyre manufacturer Goodyear has identified young drivers in the UK to have a lack of knowledge on The Highway Code and road safety practices but a recent pan European study shows however that the UK is amongst the best in Europe.

The research, which forms part of Goodyear’s third annual European Road Safety Survey, identifies young drivers’ habits behind the wheel as well as their views on cars and driving in general. However, whilst young drivers in the UK compare favourably with the rest of Europe, the research highlights the on-going importance of continued education for new drivers.

The latest survey polled the behavior of 6,400 young drivers under the age of 25 in 16 markets (15 European countries and South Africa) and provided interesting insights into young and novice drivers on the road.

Youngsters feel the need, the need for speed

Youngsters in the UK sit alongside their peers in Spain as the most responsible young drivers with just 54% and 40% respectively admitting to speeding. Whilst still a high percentage, when it is compared to Poland, South Africa and Russia (81%, 79% and 76% respectively), it highlights the comparative good sense of young people here. The UK is also the least likely to try out the top speed of their cars – just 18% – a statistic probably explained by the strict levels of law enforcement and speed cameras in operation in the UK.

Not just throttle, but bottle

Despite heavy publicity in many markets and increasingly stringent penalties for offenders, an alarming 24% of men and 15% of women in the survey admitted to driving having consumed alcohol. Young drivers in South Africa are the most likely to drive home after having a few beers or glasses of wine (45%), whereas the UK they are the least likely at just 4%, again reflecting the high enforcement and low tolerance policy in this area.

Hand on the wheel, eyes on the phone

As youngsters climb into their cars today, they are met by a whole host of distractions competing for their attention.  A significant proportion admit to being easily distracted whether it is speaking on the phone without a headset, using their smartphone to access the internet, applying their make-up or eating a snack.

Encouragingly, however, whilst 70% of respondents in Sweden and Russia are guilty of this behavior, only 14% of youngsters interviewed in the UK are likely to engage in any of these activities. They are also less inclined to have more than the legal number of passengers in the car, and are seemingly the most conservative as well with only 8% admitting they’re likely to have back seat sex.

Where youngsters here in the UK do fall down, however, is that they’re the least likely to report their friends if they do witness them engaging in any irresponsible behavior whilst at the wheel.

“Today we see continuous growth in the online and gadget world and this will clearly have knock-on effects in terms a young driver’s ability to concentrate at the wheel,” said Kate Rock, Consumer and Brand PR Manager at Goodyear.  “Driving requires 100% of our concentration and attention and youngsters need to put phones and other distractions to one side if they are to drive safely and responsibly.”

A passport to freedom and a reflection of personality

The research also showed that British youngsters are the most likely to view their car as a way of gaining independence (77%) but   when asked how they would behave if they had a flat tyre, youngsters revealed that they were not as independent as they would like to believe. British young drivers are the most likely to call their parents (42%) in such circumstances, compared to just 4% of young Russians.

Kate Rock concluded: “With safety at the core of our brand, Goodyear is focused on supporting young and novice drivers. In spite of the results of our research, young people are still disproportionately involved in road accidents and road fatalities in the UK, making it crucial to ensure that they are trained adequately in driving schools. This is one of the reasons why we are active partners in Young Driver, a road safety initiative that gets youngsters behind the wheel before they reach the age of 17.  We have also rolled out our Driving Academy programme across schools in the UK. Initiatives like these can go a long way to equipping young drivers with the skills they need to drive safely.”