Mansell Report urges young driver safety 

l-r: Saul Billingsley, FIA Foundation; Nigel Mansell CBE and Edmund King, AA, launch ‘Young Drivers at Risk’ report
Nigel Mansell interviewed by a teenager for a BBC TV news programme

Nigel Mansell, the former racing world champion, has highlighted the ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances surrounding drivers’ first crashes in a new report co-launched by the UK Automobile Association and the Make Roads Safe campaign.

Nigel Mansell CBE returned to the scene of some of his greatest racing triumphs to urge that speed be kept on the race track, not on the road. Mansell, who is a member of the Commission for Global Road Safety and recently undertook a charity cycle ride from John O’Groats in the north of Scotland to Paris in his capacity as President of UK Youth, joined the Director of the AA Charitable Trust, Edmund King, and FIA Foundation Deputy Director Saul Billingsley to launch the report on young driver safety in the UK at the Silverstone race track as part of the ‘Silverstone Classic’ weekend.

Key findings of the report, “Young Drivers at Risk”, centre on a survey of almost 20,000 motorists on the AA/Populus panel who have been involved in car crashes and shows new drivers are most at risk on the roads in the first six months or so after passing their test. These drivers revealed nearly 40 per cent of them had crashed by the time they were 23 years old. The results also showed a quarter (26%) had crashed within two years of gaining their licence. Twenty-six per cent of car occupant deaths are young people aged 17-24.

To tackle these tragedies, the report urges a ‘Safe System’ approach to road safety, including more investment in safe road design, awareness of the benefits of safety technologies such as electronic stability control, more visible police enforcement and a more innovative and rewarding approach to young driver insurance. The report also calls for young drivers to be given more opportunities to drive in a safe, off-road environment before they turn 17. Almost three quarters (73%) of UK motorists believe this would make young drivers safer.

Nigel Mansell CBE, said: “I became a world champion by driving fast. I love cars and racing. But I know the place for speed is on a race track, not on the road. Here in the UK we have one of the best road safety records in the world. Since the mid 1970’s, around the time I was starting my racing career, road fatalities have fallen by more than half. Seat belts, drink driving campaigns, safer vehicle and road design, speed enforcement and better driver training have all played their part. But we cannot be complacent, and the latest casualty figures suggest that the number of deaths has begun to creep back up. And while road deaths among the young remain a serious problem in the UK, in many parts of the world they have become nothing less than a crisis out of control. Someone is being killed or maimed every six seconds.  It is an epidemic that is set to double within the next few years unless we take action. This is a vitally important issue which doesn’t get enough attention. Too many of our young people are still being killed or injured on the roads. These are preventable tragedies.”

At the launch event, held at ‘AA World’ in the Silversone circuit, the AA Charitable Trust pledged 1,000 free driver improvement courses for new drivers at risk as part of its commitment to improving road safety in the UK. Drive Confident and Drive Smart are both taught by AA Driving School instructors and help nervous, lapsed or over-confident drivers update their skills to stay safe on the roads. These courses are being partly funded by a grant from the FIA Foundation, through the FIA’s ‘Action for Road Safety’ initiative in support of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. The grant is also being used to create a template for the courses so other motoring organisations can implement similar schemes worldwide. Nigel Mansell met young drivers at the event to discuss their perspectives on road safety.

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “It’s no secret that new and young drivers are disproportionately represented in road crashes and we need to work together to stem this tide of carnage. Our survey shows one quarter of 18-24 year olds who have had a crash had crashed within six months of taking their test. We must change this. By the age of 17 attitudes towards driving will already have been largely formed. If teenagers have had interesting and practical road safety education they are less likely to take dangerous risks when they get behind the wheel alone. We must also remember that when driving, practical training counts for nothing if the driver is impaired through drink, drugs and driver distractions such as mobile phones. Road crashes are not only the leading cause of death and injury for young people in the UK, but also across the world.  We need safer drivers in safer cars on safer roads, to reduce these preventable deaths in the UK and across the globe.”

Download the report 'Young Drivers at Risk' >