YOUNG drivers are being urged to put the brakes on their behaviour behind the wheel after figures revealed 11 deaths on the city’s road in four years.
Road Safety GB launches its Don’t Drive Stupid campaign today – the start of Road Safety Week – to crack down on the number of accidents involving motorists aged between 17 and 24.
According to the national road safety organisation, 1,323 people were injured in crashes involving young drivers in Sunderland between 2008 until 2012, 101 of which were seriously hurt with 11 deaths.
Inexperience, drugs and bravado account for majority of young driver fatalities and injuries, according to Road Safety GB which is made up of local highways authorities.
Its North East regional group said peer pressure was the key in encouraging young people to drive more sensibly as the weather deteriorates and the nights draw in. Almost a third of casualties on North-East roads are caused by drivers aged between 17 and 24, according to Road Safety GB figures.
In September last year, 19-year-old driver Jay McCormick died after the car he was driving collided with a lamppost and three parked cars in Washington.
An inquest into his death heard he had taken drink and drugs before losing control of the vehicle. The crash also claimed the life of his passenger, Jonathan Cruddas-Ginks, 23.
In County Durham, the figures were even higher, with 25 people losing their lives and 2,906 injuries, of which 218 were classed as serious.
“A big cause of accidents involving young people is simply that they are not paying attention, they fail to look properly and are easily distracted,” Durham County Council’s road safety manager Alan Kennedy said.
“Also, many young people believe they are better drivers than they actually are.
“Some like to show off to their mates, drive inappropriately in poor weather, and always seem to be in a hurry. All of that is a recipe for disaster.”
Despite young drivers holding only eight per cent of the region’s driving licences, they accounted for 26 per cent of road casualties last year.
One in four 17 year olds who hold a driving licence will be involved in a collision, with the period between now and January seeing the greatest number of accidents.
“Most young drivers are good drivers, but we want passengers to influence those friends that are not, and to tell them ‘don’t drive stupid’,” Mr Kennedy added. “It could save their lives.”