Although we thankfully have very little gun and knife crime in Cyprus, we have certainly all seen the appalling road safety statistics – which clearly show that young drivers are the most at risk when it comes to motoring, so the recent research conducted in the UK is almost certainly reflected on the island.
According to research from the AA Charitable Trust on its tenth anniversary, driving is now seen as a bigger threat to teenagers than gun and knife crime in the United Kingdom.
In the last ten years there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of people who think driving represents the greatest threat to teenage safety, rising from 11 per cent to 17 per cent.
This means it has risen above gun and knife crime in people’s perception of dangers to young people, which has dropped from 25 per cent to 16 per cent despite recent well-publicised statistics about the prevalence of knife crime, particularly in London. This is reflected in the AA/Populus figures, which show 33 per cent of Londoners think gun and knife crime is the biggest threat to teenagers – far higher than the national figure.
Drugs have remained at the top of the list (rising from 31 to 39 per cent), with drinking taking second place (down from 25 to 19 per cent).
Globally, road accidents are the single biggest killer of teenagers, and the latest UK statistics show that 889 16-19-year-olds were killed or seriously injured in cars in 2016.
Edmund King, Director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “Ten years is a long time in the life of roads and driving, but the issues around young drivers have remained prevalent throughout.
“Young drivers have been a particular focus for us and it is good that the message about the risks they face on the roads is finally starting to sink in.
“Young people are far more at risk in a car than they are from gun or knife crime. Being aware of the risks is the first step towards reducing the risk. Parents, carers and young people themselves can help manage the dangers teenagers face on the roads through education and driver training”.
In the ten years the Trust has been running it has funded hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of driver improvement courses targeting young drivers, nervous drivers, motorway driving skills and electric vehicle driving.
It has recently announced £20,000 worth of free Drive Motorway courses, specifically aimed at helping new drivers who missed the chance to take lessons on the motorway, the opportunity to receive professional motorway driving tuition.
Brake, the British road safety charity, has long campaigned to tackle the issue of young drivers’ safety and is calling on the government to implement a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system to end the tragedy of young driver death on our roads.
Brake recommends that such a system should include a 12-month learner period, an initial test, and then a probationary period when drivers can drive independently but with restrictions – such as a late-night driving curfew.
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “With the perception of the dangers facing young drivers finally catching up to the reality, it is clear that the Government must take decisive action in order to protect young lives. 25 young drivers are killed or seriously injured on our roads every week and yet there is a proven solution which can prevent this, Graduated Driver Licencing.”