Bereaved families in the South call for action on life-shattering young driver crashes at launch of Road Safety Week
As survey reveals extent of deadly risk taking among region’s young drivers
PRESS RELEASE from Brake, the road safety charity
Embargoed until: 00.01 hrs, Tuesday 22 November 2011
Families from the South region who have lost loved ones in devastating young driver crashes are calling for action to tackle the biggest killer of young people  at the launch of Road Safety Week, run by the charity Brake and supported by national sponsor QBE Insurance and regional sponsor Allied Bakeries.
Their calls come as a survey of 532 young people in the region by Brake and QBE Insurance, published today (22 Nov), shows nearly six in 10 (57%) fear for their lives at times when a passenger with a young driver, and more than half (54%) have been endangered by risk-taking peers speeding or drink driving (see below). The vast majority would support a tougher regime for novice drivers: 83% are in favour of at least one type of licence restriction, such as a zero-tolerance alcohol limit or tougher penalties .
Casualty statistics revealed by Brake today show that every eight days a young person is killed on roads in the South of England, leaving behind devastated family and friends. Every 13 hours, a young person suffers a serious injury on the region’s roads, in many cases life-changing injuries such as brain damage, paralysis or limb loss . Read more facts on road casualties among young people.
Young drivers are also involved in a disproportionately high number of crashes that kill and injure people of all ages. Nationwide, young drivers (age 17-24) are involved in crashes that result in one in four road deaths and serious injuries (24%) – 17 deaths and serious injuries every day  – despite only making up one in eight (12%) licence holders .
Bereaved families are speaking out about the devastating aftermath of these preventable, violent crashes, and appealing to young drivers – and drivers of all ages – in the South to have a heart at the wheel by making a pledge to drive safely.
Brake is also demanding action from government to tackle these needless casualties, highlighting evidence that ‘graduated driver licensing’, including a minimum learning to drive period, and restrictions for novice drivers, would prevent 200 deaths and thousands of injuries each year . Read Brake’s calls for action.
More survey results
Brake and QBE Insurance’s survey of young people in the South of England reveals widespread risk-taking among young drivers, and that many young people put their lives on the line by riding as passengers with peers:
- 21% have been a passenger with a young driver who had been drinking or taking drugs
- 50% have been a passenger with a young driver who broke speed limits by more than 10mph
- 18% don’t always belt up when a passenger with a young driver
Click here for full survey results by region, on a restricted-access, embargoed web page.
Julie Townsend, campaigns director at Brake, says: “It is unacceptable that more young people die in preventable road crashes than from any other cause. Every day, more families face the unbearable news that a loved one has been killed suddenly and violently, or suffered a horrific injury, in young driver crashes. We are calling for action to tackle this needless suffering and the huge costs to society.
“We need drivers of all ages in the South to show compassion at the wheel, to realise they have lives in their hands, and pledge to drive safely and legally. And we need the government to help young, inexperienced drivers to be safer, by implementing graduated driver licensing: we’re appealing for a commitment to this evidenced, life-saving policy during Road Safety Week.”
Richard Blackhurst, 18, from Headley Down near Farnham, was killed in a head-on crash on 5 September 2008. He was trying to overtake on a dark, wet country road while approaching a bend. It was two days after his 18th birthday. Read more.
Richard’s mum, Anne Blackhurst, and friend, Aaron Bufton, 20, are supporting Road Safety Week 2011. Aaron will be attending the national launch in London.
Anne said: “To lose a child is the worst possible thing you can ever go through. You don’t ever come to terms with it. It was devastating to tell all his friends he was dead just two days after his 18th birthday party. When you are 17 or 18 you think you are invincible. Richard thought he was. It is so important to get the message out to other young people that it just isn’t worth taking risks on the road. Richard died because he took a risk. Don’t let it happen to you. I’m asking you to have a heart at the wheel and drive sober, slow and secure to prevent more needless tragedies.”
Aaron said: “The impact of one of your friends dying in a crash is unimaginable. Everyone was devastated when Richard died. It was so overwhelming. It left a gaping hole in our group that doesn’t go away. It alters your thinking massively. I’d never take risks on the road. You can’t afford to take chances when you are driving because it could kill you or someone else.”
Steven Negus, 16, from Lancing, West Sussex, died on 25 September 1984, two days after he was knocked off his bicycle by a young driver. Read more. Steven’s brother, Craig Peters, 30, is supporting Road Safety Week.
Craig said: “I was only four years old when my brother was killed by a young driver. I grew up in the shadow of his death. It devastated my family, and it shaped my upbringing. You are told that time heals the pain, but it doesn’t. I think about what could have been. My older brother, so gentle and kind, could have been there, and my family could have been whole. If you break traffic laws you could go to prison or get a hefty fine, but at the end of the day, someone could lose their life and that’s the bottom line. It’s tempting when you are young, to think you can take risks and handle it – but the truth is that no one can – it affects everyone’s ability to drive safely, young or old. Please have a heart at the wheel and drive sober, slow and secure to stop more people being needlessly killed and more families suffering like mine has.”
More about the Road Safety Week campaign:
- Read full results of the survey of young people
- Read Brake’s factsheet on young driver crashes
- Read Brake’s ‘Too young to die’ campaign agenda
- See Brake’s website with advice for young people on staying safe as drivers and passengers
Road Safety Week is an annual event coordinated by Brake, now in its 15th year, which involves thousands of schools, communities and organisations taking action on road safety. It is supported by headline sponsor QBE Insurance, additional sponsor FedEx Express, and regional sponsors including Allied Bakeries in the South region. See www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk for more info.
Notes to editors
 Death registrations in England and Wales: Table 2 Deaths by age, sex and underlying cause, 2010 registrations, Office National Statistics, 2011
 Results from a Brake and QBE Insurance survey of 532 young people age 15-25 in the South of England region conducted via schools, colleges, universities and youth clubs
 In 2010, 451 young people age 15 – 25 were killed on UK roads, 6,243 were badly hurt, some suffering life-changing injuries such as paralysis, brain damage or loss of limbs. A further 54,000 were slightly hurt. Figures provided to Brake by the Department for Transport and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, September 2011
 Figures provided to Brake by Department for Transport and Police Service of Northern Ireland for 2010, September 2011
 Reported road accidents involving young car drivers: Great Britain 2009, DfT, 2011
 Restricting young drivers, The University of Cardiff, 2010
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 65 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (21-27 November 2011), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.
QBE – providing insurance solutions for 125 years
QBE Insurance Group is Standard & Poor’s A+ rated and one of the world’s leading international insurers and reinsurers with operations in all the key insurance markets and over 14,000 staff worldwide. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QBE is a lead underwriter in its chosen markets, setting rates and conditions. For the year ended 31 December 2010, QBE’s gross written premium was US$13.6 billion.
QBE European Operations, which accounts for over 25% of the group’s turnover, is a specialist in business insurance. Active in both the Lloyd’s and company markets, QBE offers considerable diversity and distribution power to its UK and European customers via three product-focused underwriting divisions: property, casualty (liability) and motor, marine, energy and aviation and reinsurance.
Allied Bakeries is one of three divisions of Allied Milling and Baking, which in turn is part of Associated British Foods plc. They’re the people who make the familiar names you see on supermarket and grocery store shelves: Kingsmill, Burgen, Allinson and Sunblest. As well as bread, they make rolls, pancakes, crumpets, muffins, hot cross buns, wraps and other delicious bakery products.
FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to every U.S. address and to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx Express uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date with a money-back guarantee.