Young Farmers launch road safety driving course as new study shows risks for young rural drivers

The National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs (NFYFC) is launching its first rural road safety driving course this Saturday 8th June in the same week as a new study revealed rural young drivers are almost twice as likely to be involved in a collision than young urban drivers.

The study produced by Road Safety Analysis (RSA), in support of the NFYFC’s and NFU Mutual’s road safety campaign Drive it Home, is based on data collated from the Department for Transport. It showed that young people who live and learn to drive in rural locations are at a higher risk behind the wheel: young rural drivers are 44% more likely to be involved in an injury-causing collision.

As one of the largest rural youth organisations in the UK, the majority of NFYFC’s members live and work in rural communities and the findings of the report have provided a series of recommendations, which include the introduction of rural roads in the driving test and more transport options for rural communities.

NFYFC and NFU Mutual are working with professional racing drivers to give young farmers expert tuition on how to control their vehicle if they skid on ice, snow or mud as well as interactive workshops and sessions on rural roads to highlight the dangers. The first course is in Kenilworth at the Prodrive Centre on Sat 8 June from 1pm with 50 young farmers, and a second course is moving to Honiton, Devon to reach members in the South West on Saturday 23 June.

Analysis of DVLA data shows that young rural people are 89% more likely to have a full driving licence than urban youngsters and that they are more likely to get their licences at an earlier age. This could be due to the lack of transport links in rural areas and the need for young people to be able to get to college, work or to socialise.

Between 2007 and 2011, 8,227 young rural drivers were involved in collisions where someone was either killed or seriously injured. The study found that many of the influencing factors for a collision involving a young driver are proportionally higher for those living in rural areas owing to the makeup of the road network and their own inexperience. In particular, young rural drivers are two-thirds (68%) more likely to be involved in a collision on a road with a 60mph limit.

The RSA study highlighted there are also a number of factors that appear to be unique to young rural drivers. They are 28% more likely to claim loss of control as a contributory factor and 16% more likely to have a collision on a wet road surface. It seems young rural drivers are also more likely to risk drink driving, as the study showed they are nearly two-thirds (60%) more likely to provide a positive breath test at the time of the collision.

Milly Wastie, NFYFC’s National Chairman of Council, said: “This research shows that rural young drivers face distinct challenges on our country roads and a lack of education and support is costing lives. For example, 52% of rural young drivers are more likely to be involved in a collision on a bend than urban young drivers and 63% are more likely to be involved in a collision in the dark.

“We are working with NFU Mutual to ensure our Drive it Home campaign tackles these issues by offering our 25,000 members practical driver training courses. But more needs to be done to spread the safety messages wider. The NFYFC would like to see the introduction of rural roads within the driving test and for more rural communities to provide wider transport options for young people in their local area. We must work together to tackle road safety and to save lives.”

Dan Campsall from RSA said: “The recommendations of this report may not be wholeheartedly welcomed by all, but the research provides clear evidence that our rural young people are experiencing real inequality from the effect of road traffic crashes. These events devastate close-knit communities and destroy the promising futures of too many young lives. This research, which represents the most detailed study to-date of risks to young drivers who live in rural communities, is a challenge to national and local government, to communities and families alike to build the infrastructure, legislative frameworks and support structures which will serve to protect these young people.”

Tim Price of NFU Mutual said: “This research is broadly in line with our own experience as the UK’s leading rural insurer. Deaths and serious injuries are taking a dreadful toll on the lives of young people and we are working with Young Farmers’ Clubs and other organisations to try and reduce accidents and save lives.”

The study has revealed the top 10 riskiest counties for young rural drivers to highlight where interventions might be prioritised. NFYFC will be working closely with its clubs in these locations.

  1. North and North East Lincolnshire
  2. South Glamorgan
  3. Lincolnshire
  4. Surrey
  5. East Sussex
  6. Dyfed
  7. Isle of Wight
  8. Cheshire
  9. Hereford
  10. West Sussex



2 Responses to Young Farmers launch road safety driving course as new study shows risks for young rural drivers

  1. Administrator Jun 7, 2013 at 09:02

    Some valid points made there Philip. Maybe there is also a complacency in that they know the roads and there often isn’t much traffic leading to more risky driving habits? Reduced or lack of street lighting in rural areas can also add to the mix, wouldn’t you say?

  2. Philip Hastings Jun 7, 2013 at 07:38

    A great move to reduce the needless waste of lives on rural roads, but using racing drivers as mentors, whilst ‘sexy’, is a very doubtful benefit. Teaching young drivers how to handle skids, too, is seriously counter-productive.
    Racing drivers have entirely different skill sets: they drive on closed circuits, in one direction, without other road users in the way: pedestrians, oncoming/crossing traffic, unexpected events, even escaped livestock! Their remit is the highest speed possible, and their fast reaction skills are tuned entirely differently to on-road driving. The only worry they have with bends is hitting a soft wall of bales or tyres, not a tree or a brick wall. Even their vehicle type: low and wide, is the very opposite of high centre of gravity cars/4×4’s that farming people use.
    Skid training is being withdrawn in many places: research has shown that people trained to ‘deal’ with a skid are at increased risk of getting into one in the first place because of their perceived ‘advanced’ skills. Even the Met Police are withdrawing skid training for all but pursuit drivers. Skidding on a skid pan is fine: nothing to hit! On a public road, with confined space and hard obstructions, it’s totally different.
    Testing on rural roads is of doubtful use: a ‘rural’ drive as part of the driving test will not last longer than around 10 minutes at most, and any driver can manage that.
    Farming people often drive tired, at odd hours, often in poor conditions that racing drivers have no experience of, and they need to be able to deal with that.
    What IS needed is training in: understanding vehicle dynamics, what speed actually is, momentum and stability. Improving anticipatory (proactive) skills, which most young people don’t have in abundance, coupled with reading not just the road, but the topography. More rural deaths occur on bends because of a failure to understand all of the above: urban drivers don’t have the same problems.
    Understanding how micro-congestion occurs, especially in/around villages and other rural ‘pinch points’.
    Reading the surface and understanding micro-climates will almost always avoid skids: even those ‘trained to skid’ will rarely be able to correct one safely on a country road without all the other skills.
    Finally, ‘skid training’ is usually conducted in a ‘cradle car’ which, whilst great fun, is only an approximation of skidding, and is of really limited value out on the road: no kerbs to fall over, parked cars or pedestrians to bounce off: no unforgiving trees!

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