Country roads a 'significant' risk to young drivers: these are Britain's most dangerous rural roads

Under-25s at disproportionate risk of crashes and death on rural roads

New research has revealed the most dangerous rural roads for young drivers as data shows they are more likely to crash and be killed on country roads than any other age group.

Motorists aged 17-24 are already known to be involved in a disproportionate number of accidents but the research released by the AA Charitable Trust has found that they are also at greater risk on rural roads compared with other age groups and other road types.

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The research, by Agilysis and the Road Safety Foundation, found that 71 per cent of all young driver fatalities take place on rural roads. Department for Transport figures show that across all age groups, 57 per cent of all deaths occur on rural roads.

Young drivers are disproportionately at risk on country roads

The analysis of crash data from 2013-18 also showed that young drivers were nearly 10 per cent more likely to be involved in a rural crash than older drivers, and faced a higher risk of death (two per cent) or serious injury (15.2 per cent) when involved in a crash on a rural road compared to an urban road (0.6 and 11.3 per cent respectively).

Young drivers were also found to be far more likely to be involved in single-vehicle crashes, with 27 per cent of all young driver crashes on rural roads only involving one car, compared with 16 per cent for all age groups.

The data, presented in a searchable interactive map, shows that the A6076 in County Durham is the most dangerous road for young drivers in terms of relative risk, with 60 per cent of crashes involving young drivers. The A704 in West Lothian is nearly as bad, with 59 per cent of all crashes involving a motorist under the age of 25. Other danger spots were the A419 in Gloucestershire, A388 in Cornwall and A41 in Hertfordshire.

The data also looked at crash density, identifying the A229 and A2 in Kent and the A3 in Surrey as the rural roads with the highest number of crashes involving young drivers.

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AA president Edmund King commented: “Many young drivers and indeed parents are unaware that rural roads pose a specific and significant risk to young drivers and potentially are much more dangerous than motorways or urban roads.

“Our data clearly shows that the rural road risk is highest for the youngest drivers on our roads and decreases with each year of age. This is a clear sign greater education and exposure to rural roads helps alleviate the risks they pose.”

Rural roads pose additional challenges to drivers, especially those with less experience. Higher speeds, narrow roads with sharp corners, and slippery surfaces around farms are among factors thought to contribute to the higher number of crashes on country roads.

Sally Lines, chief executive of the Road Safety Trust, added: “It is important to be able to clearly identify risks to young drivers on rural roads and take steps forward to address those, whether it is through education, infrastructure improvements, or both.

“We want to make UK roads safer for all road users and these findings provide the platform to be able to help reduce the risk of death or serious injury to young drivers.”