Mike Stevens | Sep 17, 2009

ACCORDING TO insurer AAMI, young drivers continue to be immune to government safe-driving campaigns and 'hoon' laws. Its research indicates that an alarming percentage of young motorists aged 18 to 24 persist in dangerous behaviours such as speeding and drink-driving.

AAMI's ninth annual Young Drivers Index points to speed as a key factor, with 16 percent of young drivers admitting to speeding most of the time - almost triple the number of drivers aged 25 and over.

“The consequences of anti-social and dangerous driving can be deadly," AAMI Corporate Affairs Manager Yves Noldus said.

"Despite young drivers only making up about 13 percent of all drivers, they continue to be over-represented in the road toll, accounting for a quarter of all drivers killed on our roads.”

The research showed alcohol to be a major contributing factor in road accidents involving young people, while instances of excessive speeding and drag racing appear to be on the rise.

“It's alarming to see that some young drivers continue to underestimate the influence of alcohol consumption on their driving skills, with one in six (15 percent) believing it is okay for them to drive after a few drinks as long as they feel capable,” Mr Noldus said.

AAMI's research indicated that some young drivers continue to ignore the implications of drug use, with 14 percent claiming that driving after using recreational drugs is safer than driving after drinking.

Mr Noldus said that the results in this year's Young Drivers Index aren't all bad, with more young drivers claiming they no longer send or read text messages while driving.

AAMI's research showed that young drivers are now more supportive of the introduction of a late night curfew, with almost 45 percent agreeing with the idea, compared to 30 percent in 2008.

"Four in five (80 percent) now also support the introduction of a compulsory safe driving course, up 10 per from last year,” Mr Noldus said."

For the first time, this year's survey asked young drivers what they worry about most when driving.

The results showed that young drivers are less likely to worry about bad weather and poor road conditions than older drivers.

Tony Barber, Manager of AAMI's Skilled Driver's Program, says the findings reflect how inexperience often determines the way young drivers act on the road, often overestimating their driving ability.

“Road safety research has identified the most common factors influencing young driver behaviour are overconfidence, overestimation of driving ability and risk taking,” Mr Barber said.

“Driver safety depends on vital abilities like hazard perception, personal risk perception, plus the motivation to make safe choices.

"In most cases, the safety of a young driver is going to be determined by how and under what conditions they choose to drive.”

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