Get the facts

Getting a driver’s licence is an important step in a young person’s transition to adulthood. However, greater mobility and independence does not come without costs. The risks to new drivers are significant. Over 700 young people (15-24 year olds) are killed each year in road crashes in Canada, and a further 50,000 are injured, many seriously. These numbers make road accidents the leading cause of death among young people.

While the introduction of the graduated driver licensing program has helped to reduce young driver’s crash risks, the involvement of young drivers in serious road crashes still vastly outweighs their representation in the driving population? they account for nearly 25% of motor vehicle deaths and injuries but are only 13% of the licensed driving population (TIRF, 2008).

Age and Impulsivity, gender and inexperience all account for the relatively high crash rate of young drivers:

Age and Impulsivity

Impulsivity – (def.) ” …is a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behaviour characterized by little or no forethought, reflection, or consideration of the consequences.”

Young drivers are more likely to be susceptible to peer pressure, lack of sleep, distractions and mood swings. It is widely understood that areas of the brain responsible for key safe driving functions (planning, decision-making, risk management…) are not fully developed until a person reaches their mid-20s. Because of this, young drivers are more likely to exhibit impulsive behaviour.

Research shows most crashes involving young drivers do not occur because they do not know how to drive the car, or because they do not understand the rules of the road – it’s because they make impulsive decisions while driving. Our programs are designed to focus on this reality and draw student’s attention to their individual potential for impulsiveness.

Gender

Young males are more likely to be killed or injured as a driver, but young females are more likely to be killed or injured as a passenger.

Inexperience

Insufficient hours and quality time behind the wheel as a learner driver mean that new drivers are often unprepared for the challenges of modern-day traffic. A lack of experience, combined with young drivers natural tendency towards impulsivity leads to higher risk, especially when they first begin to drive on their own.

Find out more:

Here is a source for more information on adolescent development as it applies to impulsivity and risk-taking:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445337/