Teenage drivers from the Northern and Grampian regions of Scotland are involved in more than 15 per cent of road accidents causing injury in those areas – one of the highest proportions in the UK.
Based on statistics covering five years, a survey showed 15.7 per cent of all road casualties in the area were injured or killed in collisions involving a car driver aged 17-19.
This compares to just 11.4 per cent in Strathclyde, 11.6 per cent in Lothian and Borders and 13.1 per cent in Tayside, Fife and Central.
UK-wide, teenagers are involved in almost one in eight road accidents. This was despite those aged between 17 and 19 making up only 1.5 per cent of licensed drivers.
The proportion of casualties involving drivers aged 17-19 was highest in the Dyfed Powys area of Wales at almost one in five, or 18.2 per cent. London had the smallest proportion of 5.6 per cent.
Covering the five years from 2008 to 2012, the survey was commissioned by the RAC Foundation and carried out by transport research laboratory TRL.
TRL also made a conservative estimate of what the reduction in casualties would be in each area if a system of graduated driving licensing (GDL) was introduced.
Among other possible requirements – such as a minimum learner period and lower alcohol limit for new drivers – GDL schemes typically place temporary restrictions on newly qualified young drivers in the first few months after they pass their tests.
These restrictions can include a limit on the number of young passengers they can carry and a late-night curfew. The aim of GDL is to limit young drivers’ exposure to risk until they have gained experience.
Based on the experience of other countries where GDL is in operation, TRL concluded that, across Britain, about 4,500 fewer people would be hurt in an average year. This includes about 430 people who would otherwise have been killed or seriously injured.
The RAC Foundation said that currently one in five young drivers will have an accident within six months of passing their test. Novice young drivers are at particular risk because of both their lack of experience, which affects new drivers of all ages to some degree and the behavioural characteristics of youth.
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: “Young drivers pose a significant and disproportionate risk to themselves and to others and it is in rural areas where the casualty rate is highest.
“The government has repeatedly delayed announcing its strategy to reduce young driver accidents but here is yet another piece of evidence which shows graduated licensing can significantly cut death and injury.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We know the number of young people being killed on our roads is far too high. We are carrying out further research to fully understand the issues before setting out how we proceed.”