May is Young Drivers Awareness Month

Submitted by Corp. Bryce Tarzwell

Safety on Alberta roads is always our top priority. We all have a stake in our efforts to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our roads. Government, law enforcement, and the many traffic safety partners are working together to find solutions. Drivers also need to realize the importance of the role they play too.

Over the five years, 2009 – 2013, 206 young drivers (between 14 – 24 years of age) were killed, and 12,421 young drivers were injured in collisions. Although young drivers represent only a small percentage of the province’s licensed drivers, they have the highest casualty collision rates.

Crash rates are especially high during the first year of unsupervised driving.

Crash rates for young drivers are highest when there are teen passengers in the vehicle and at night.

In terms of involvement per 1,000 licensed drivers, males aged 18-21 are consistently more likely to have consumed alcohol prior to a casualty collision than any other age group.

Another high-risk behaviour that significantly contributes to young driver road crashes in Alberta is driver intoxication (including drugs and alcohol).

Other factors associated with young driver road crashes:

Driver inexperience: Often young drivers don’t realize that it takes time and a lot of practise to develop safe driving skills.

Overconfidence and risk taking: Young drivers can be over confident about their driving ability and underestimate dangers on the road.

Having friends as passengers: Young drivers may be distracted by passengers or may feel pressured to take risks, such as speeding.

Alcohol and other drugs: Young people often do not understand that alcohol and other drugs affect a driver’s skills, mood and, most importantly, behaviour, putting the driver at greater risk of crashing. Safe driving requires clear judgment, concentration and the ability to react to what’s happening on the road.

Busy lifestyles: Work, study, and extracurricular activities often mean busy lifestyles for young people, which may cause them to drive when tired — especially late at night. Driving tired significantly impairs driving, even if the driver does not feel sleepy.

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