Mobility and transport

Young drivers

The opinions expressed in the studies are those of the consultant and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.

Young drivers

It can be seen that in almost all European countries road accidents are the major cause of death among young people. Per 100,000 inhabitants, 3 times as many people aged between 18 and 20 and twice as many aged between 21 and 24 die in cars as people aged between 25 and 65. Young riders and drivers are more often to blame for errors that cause accidents than older riders and drivers [72].

It can be seen that in almost all European countries road accidents are the major cause of death among young people. Per 100,000 inhabitants, 3 times as many people aged between 18 and 20 and twice as many aged between 21 and 24 die in cars as people aged between 25 and 65. Young riders and drivers are more often to blame for errors that cause accidents than older riders and drivers [72]

Several characteristics of young drivers that are related to traffic engineering countermeasures can be identified [25]:

  • Visual Search: Young drivers tend to have more vehicle-centered looking than up-road looking.
  • Automaticity: Young drivers have not acquired the automaticity of certain driving tasks that is gained with experience and that allows fluid switching between driving tasks under stressful conditions.
  • Hazard Detection: Young drivers, in general, detect traffic hazards less reliably and more slowly than experienced drivers.
  • Perception of Risk: Young drivers tend to perceive less risk associated with traffic hazards.
  • Attention Allocation: Young drivers are more easily distracted by non-driving related events, such as conversations that occur between passengers in the car and controlling the vehicle audio system.
  • Self-Assessment: Young drivers tend to overestimate their ability to control a vehicle under emergency conditions.
  • Comprehension of Traffic Control Devices: Young drivers may not understand the meaning of traffic control devices as much as experienced drivers, and seem to use the devices less than is ideal.
  • Vehicle Control: Young drivers are less skilled at making emergency maneuvers and are vulnerable to overcorrection errors that lead to loss of control.
  • Anticipation: Young drivers, in general, show less ability to anticipate emerging traffic hazards.

Specific roadway design features known to be problematic for young drivers include the negotiation of horizontal curves and junctions. Several studies analyze young driver problems in detail to develop improved design and operational guidelines and countermeasures.