Young rural drivers, be aware and be careful on the road

Perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated times of a teen’s life is that 16th birthday, and the opportunity to get that driver’s license.

Statistics show young drivers in rural areas face higher dangers than those of other age groups

Perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated times of a teen’s life is that 16th birthday, and the opportunity to get that driver’s license. However, the last thing any family wants to experience is the tragedy of a serious injury or death to their child who just got behind the wheel.

According to MADD Canada, “Young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury per capita among all age groups and the highest death rate per kilometer driven among all drivers under 75 years of age. More 19-year-olds die or are seriously injured than any other age group.”

Rural parents especially may want to take note, as statistic trackers have noted the rate of death and injury on rural roads is quite alarming. In a 2006 Alberta Transportation report titled “Saving Lives on Alberta’s Roads,” “Seventy per cent of all fatal crashes occurred on rural roads. Road users are 2.5 times more likely to die in a rural crash than in the city.

“(Young drivers) make up approximately five per cent of the licensed driver/rider population but 10 per cent of drivers who are killed and about 13 per cent of those who are seriously injured.”

Wetaskiwin RCMP Cst. Holly Portfield provided The Pipestone Flyer with a valuable resource the “Factsheet for Young Drivers.”

Porterfield stated over a five year period, 2010 2014, 226 young drivers and motorcyclists (between 14 24 years of age) were killed and 12,883 were injured in collisions. Although young drivers represent only a small percentage of the province’s licensed drivers, they have the highest casualty collision rates.

When do collisions involving young drivers occur?

More than one-half of casualty collisions involving a young driver (aged 14 24) occurred in the months of May through October. Fatal collisions involving a young driver occurred most often in the month of September (2010 2014).

More casualty collisions involving young drivers (aged 14 24) occurred on Friday than on any other day. In all, over half of the fatal collisions involving young drivers occurred on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (2010 2014).

Approximately one-third of casualty collisions involving a young driver (aged 14 24) occurred during the afternoon rush hour period between 3:00 pm 6:59 pm. Over half of fatal collisions involving a young driver occurred between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. (2010 2014).

What are the common mistakes that young drivers make?

Young drivers aged 14 24 are more likely to commit a driver error than other drivers. The most common errors include following too closely, running off the road, making a left turn across the path of an oncoming vehicle and stop sign violations. (2010 2014)

Are young drivers wearing seatbelts?

One-third of young drivers killed in a collision were not wearing their seatbelt (2010 2014).

What is Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)?

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is a program designed to improve road safety by creating a low risk, controlled environment for new drivers, regardless of age. The GDL program ensures that new drivers get the support, skills and experience they need to handle the complex task of driving.

What are the goals of the GDL program?

To reduce collisions, injuries and deaths in Alberta.

To reinforce that driving is a privilege not a right.

To foster a generation of safe young drivers by giving them the opportunity to practice responsible driving with a licensed mentor.

All provinces that have implemented a GDL program have experienced significant decreases in the collision rates of new drivers.

What will happen if GDL program conditions or restrictions are violated?

Violating a program condition or restriction may result in a new driver being charged with an offence as outlined below:

Violation Penalty

Alcohol consumption Immediate 30 day license suspension and an immediate 7 day vehicle seizure.

More passengers than seatbelts $155 fine and two demerit points.

Driving without a supervising driver $310 fine and two demerit points.

Where can I find more information about Alberta’s GDL program?

Additional information and resources can be found on the Saferoads website at: saferoads.alberta.ca/children/graduated-driver-licensing-program.html. Or contact your Regional Traffic Safety Consultant Becky Oxton at 780-554-7218 or becky.oxton@gov.ab.ca.