Young Men Dying To Drive

2 July 2004

In Britain, almost 90% of young men think they are ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ drivers even though nearly two-thirds describe their driving as ‘fast,’ and a quarter admits that they are ‘aggressive.’ The RAC Foundation has released these stark figures from a survey of 1525 respondents conducted by Max Power magazine.

The report suggests that young drivers are not receiving key safety messages whose perception of their driving ability contrasts starkly with the facts.

Road Casualties Great Britain 2002 [Department for Transport statistics] show that the Max Power survey age group [17-24] suffered the highest number of road deaths and serious injuries [3144] of any age group of drivers or other road users and was more than double the 25-29 driver age group [1437].

The situation is made even worse by the death and severe injury toll among their passengers, with 2290 17-24-year-olds suffering severe or fatal injuries in collisions, almost four times as many as the next highest age group.

A closer inspection of the survey results reveals the reason for the discrepancy between perception and reality.

Asked to describe their driving:

  • 86% rated themselves as ‘good’ or ‘excellent drivers
  • 73% considered their driving to be ‘controlled.’
  • 64% felt they were ‘confident.’
  • 54% thought they were ‘safe.’
  • 28% felt they were ‘considerate.’
  • 21% thought of themselves as ‘patient.’


  • 62% described their driving as ‘fast.’
  •   2% described their driving as ‘slow.’
  • 38% described their driving as ‘risky’ or ‘exhilarating.’
  • 11% conceded that their driving was ‘dangerous’ or ‘erratic.’
  • 25% described their driving as ‘aggressive andWhile 80% had no [penalty] points on their license
    20% had three or more points, 9% had 9 points, and 6% had been disqualified

    Asked what might make them better drivers, only 14% suggested reading the Highway Code. On a much more positive note, however, there was widespread recognition of the potential benefits of further driver training, with 75% believing that they would be safer drivers, 74% believing that their car insurance would be cheaper, 73% thinking that they would be more confident and 44% thinking that they would be less likely to have an accident.

    Kevin Delaney, RAC Foundation for Motoring Head of Traffic and Road Safety, said, “The Max Power survey is very worrying. Not only does it show that many young motorists seriously underestimate the risk to themselves and their passengers, but it also suggests that they are not influenced by campaigns to reduce their speed. The good news is that young drivers are keen to improve their driving and recognize the importance of more training.

    “The survey findings support the RAC Foundation campaign for an education and training-based approach to developing responsible driver attitudes, rather than concentrating on enforcement based upon cameras and penal sanctions. Young drivers, especially those who speed, should be offered courses to influence their attitudes and driving habits rather than just penalty points.

    “Many teenagers are dying to drive, and tragically, far too many die while driving because they over-estimate their ability.”

    Source: The RAC Foundation for Motoring