15% more young people killed and injured on roads

  • Published
car airbag which has gone offImage source, Thinkstock

The number of young people killed or seriously injured on roads has increased by 15% to 284 since 2012, Welsh Government figures have shown.

The RAC Foundation charity said Wales had a higher proportion of crashes involving young drivers than anywhere else in the UK.

The Welsh Government is calling on the UK Government to introduce restrictions on new drivers.

It said Graduated Driving Licences could drive down the numbers.

The UK government said it was determined to ensure those who drive dangerously and kill faced the full force of the law.

BBC Wales' Week In Week Out programme spoke to three families whose sons died in a crash in October 2015.

Rhys Jones, 18, and Ryan Gibbons, 20, were killed as the car they were in hit a telegraph pole in Merthyr Tydfil.

Their friend Joe Daniels, 18, was left in a critical condition and died in hospital a month later.

Driver John Graham, 21, was sentenced to 10 months in jail - reduced to five - after admitting three counts of death by careless driving.

The families have campaigned for restrictions on new and young drivers as well as tougher guidelines and punishments for careless and dangerous driving.

Media caption,

Three families were devastated by a car crash in Merthyr Tydfil in 2015

David Daniels, Joe Daniels' father, said: "Whatever happens there has got to be a deterrent to stop other people from doing it.

"They were three fun loving kids, a whole world ahead of them."

Mr Graham said he was deeply sorry and had taken steps to engage with a restorative justice scheme.

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said: "Graduated licences are the next big opportunity to drive down the number of young people who are killed or seriously injured and we will be pressing the UK government to enable us to introduce such a scheme.

"This would be the single biggest measure that could be introduced to save the lives of young drivers."

The government has a target to reduce the number of young people killed or seriously injured by 40% by 2020, compared with the 2004-08 average.

Image caption,
Public Health Wales' Dr Sarah Jones praised the Welsh Government's target

Dr Sarah Jones, injuries lead for Public Health Wales, said: "It's a great target. I'm really pleased to see it there but I don't believe we are doing enough to reach it.

"Ultimately, the measures that we have got in place, they don't really have the strong evidence base behind them which says that these really are going to bring about the sort of reductions that we need to see in crashes, casualties and fatalities."

The UK government is considering changes to the penalties for drivers who kill or injure, but the consultation does not include graduated driver licences.

The Ministry of Justice and Department for Transport said: "We have consulted on plans that would see the maximum sentence for a number of offences in this area increase from 14 years to life.

"We are also increasing the penalties for motorists using their phone at the wheel, which means new drivers will see their licences revoked if caught within two years of passing their test.

"We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking at ways to make them safer."

  • Week In Week Out: Too Young, Too Fast, Too Soon? is on at 22:40 GMT on BBC One Wales on Tuesday, 28 February