Miércoles 5 de Septiembre de 2007, Ip nº 206

Call for more action on teenage drink-driving
Por Rebecca Smithers

One in five teenage drivers admits to drink-driving, according to a survey today which paints a shocking picture of an entire new generation prepared to dice with death.
A smaller number of 17- and 18-year-olds - one in 14 (7%) - admitted to driving while under the influence of drugs, the joint study by road safety charity Brake and Co-operative Insurance found.

Researchers who questioned 3,118 teenagers aged 17 and 18 found a third (32%) of those who responded had been a passenger with a driver who was drunk or on drugs.

Government figures show, on average, three teenagers aged 17 or 18 are killed or seriously injured in vehicle crashes in the UK every day. Brake's message to young drivers is to never drink or take drugs and drive - not even one drink or one joint. The RAC said the figures showed that the successful, if lengthy, campaign to persuade older drivers not to drink and drive was now being undermined by foolhardy behaviour among drivers new to the road.

Last month Brake backed a report from the Commons transport select committee which recommended new measures to prevent young driver crashes. There are indications that a consultation paper could be published by the Department for Transport this autumn proposing a revamp of driver training and testing and a zero alcohol limit for newly qualified drivers. Government figures show that drivers aged 17 to 19 are 14 times more likely to be involved in a drink-drive crash resulting in injury than the 35 to 49 age group.

Jools Townsend, head of education at Brake, said the charity's Too Young to Die campaign promoted life-saving messages to teenagers such as the fact that even small amounts of alcohol or drugs could have "catastrophic consequences" behind the wheel.

He added: "Decisive government action to tackle young driver crashes is long overdue. We are demanding that the government moves forward with an overhaul of driver training and testing and introduces graduated driver licensing, which has been highly effective in cutting casualties in other countries. We also need compulsory road safety education in schools and much greater investment in traffic policing."

Figures due to be published tomorrow are expected to show that while the number of young people who drink has fallen slightly, those who do drink are consuming far more than previous generations. Statistics will also show the extent of drug-taking and smoking.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said: "We know young men are more likely to be involved in a drink-drive accident than any other age group as our stats show that 35% of drink-drive accidents in 2005 involved young men.

"That is why we have just launched a new £3m campaign specifically aimed at preventing young men drink-driving. This follows 11 months of extensive research. We also plan to consult later in the year on how to significantly overhaul the current training and testing system and how to make it easier for the police to enforce against drink driving."

  30/08/2007. The Guardian.