Rural roads dangerous for young drivers

September 22, 2009

Results from Australia's largest study of young drivers have shown that they are at significant risk of crash on rural roads. According to researchers from The George Institute, young drivers living in rural areas are more likely to be involved in serious crashes than those in urban areas.

These results and other young driver issues will be discussed today at the launch of the Young Driver Factbase - - a new online resource of young driver issues and research evidence.

Overall, young city drivers are more likely to crash due to the high-density of vehicles within urban settings. However, after conducting a survey of more than 20,000 young drivers, researchers identified young rural drivers to be at a far greater risk of single-vehicle crashes, which are more likely to result in serious injury than other crash types.

"We know that urban crashes with multiple vehicles take place more often due to the high volume cars on city roads. What we didn't know was that young drivers in rural locations are actually at a much higher risk of having single-vehicle crashes, which are often fatal and in many cases avoidable", said author Associate Professor Rebecca Ivers, The George Institute.

"Since our study found that young drivers on rural roads were more likely to crash as a result of curved roads and speeding, efforts to reduce speeding behaviour and manage driving at curved road sections, such as speed cameras, and greater use of engineering measures to slow traffic are needed on ", Associate Professor Ivers added. The research was conducted by Huei-Yang Chen, PhD student in the Sydney School of Public Health, the University of Sydney.

These results are part of a series of analyses from the DRIVE study, which is the largest survey of young drivers undertaken, both in Australia and internationally.

The DRIVE study was funded by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council, NRMA Motoring and Services, and NRMA-ACT Road Safety trust and the Roads and Traffic Authority of NSW. The DRIVE study recruited over 20,822 young drivers holding red P-plates in NSW aged 17-24 years and followed all 20,822 young drivers for police-recorded crashes occurring over 2 years. The overall aim of the study is to investigate the risk factors in motor vehicle-related crashes and injuries among young drivers and to find ways to improve the safety of and help make roads safer for all users.

This particular analysis investigated the risk of various type of crash, by urban, regional and rural settings.

Source: Research Australia (news : web)

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5 / 5 (2) Sep 22, 2009
One major contributor to rural crashes, electronic stability systems. These systems give people a false sense of a vehicle's handling by compensating for poor driving habits. When on rural roads, uneven surfaces, gravel, crowned roads and abrupt curves negate the ESS. Basic physics takes over.
Sep 23, 2009
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5 / 5 (1) Sep 23, 2009
This is a meaningless study. It is also obvious. Rural drivers encounter fewer other cars by a factor of several thousand. Rural driver accident rate is less per mile traveled by a large margin. Average speed per mile traveled is considerably higher for rural drivers. The VAST majority of single vehicle low speed accidents are NOT reported - urban or rural esp rural. Therefore the number of REPORTED rural single vehicle accidents will be higher as will the injury "rate." DUH!

As a rural dad who raised a rural driver I'd much rather have him driving our car free rural roads than driving in a city. And this includes such issues as huge farm vehicles, little winter road maintenance, lots of nasty winter weather, widely spaced residences, and very few law enforcement officers (haven't seen one while I'm driving for >4 months!).

Great driver's ed, safety belts, vehicles matching roads, & starting to drive before puberty takes over (daytime, no passenger license @ 13) creates safe drivers!
5 / 5 (1) Sep 23, 2009
I grew up driving all kinds of vehicles from tractors to pickups to large trucks on dirt and gravel roads under all conditions beginning when I was seven or eight years old. My oldest daughter is turning 13 this month and has never driven at all.

I'm going to start taking her out into the country (where I live rural roads are long, wide, and straight) so that she can begin learning how to deal with surface issues long before she gets her DL. Truth be told, I nearly killed myself more times than I care to remember, but I was hauling loads and pulling machinery weighing many tons as I learned what deep ruts, loose gravel, mud, ice, or excessive speed can do. My kids will simply be driving a four speed with me next to them.

I think everyone needs to learn to drive on rural roads-- how to steer out of skids, how to "feel" the road through the steering wheel, how to stay on the hard pack and out of the loose gravel in between, etc. All this makes for better drivers in town and out.

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