Rural roads a ‘significant’ risk for young drivers: these are Scotland’s most dangerous routes

Under-25s at disproportionate risk of death on country roads

Young drivers are disproportionately at risk on country roads

New research has revealed the most dangerous rural roads for young drivers in Scotland as data shows they are more likely to crash and be killed on country roads than any other age group.

Data released by the AA Charitable Trust via interactive map shows that on some roads almost 60 per cent of crashes involve a motorist aged 17-24 and drivers in that age group are the most likely to crash and be killed on such roads.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The A704 in West Lothian was identified as the riskiest road for young drivers in terms of the proportion of accidents involving a motorist under the age of 25. Fifty-nine per cent of accidents between 2013 and 2018 involved a young driver, and the road was also found to have among the most young driver crashes per kilometre in the country.


The A846, stretching across the Inner Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura was identified as the second riskiest road, with 53 per cent of the 19 collisions involving a driver under 25. In Argyll & Bute, the 2.5-mile stretch of A885 between Dunoon and Sandbank saw young drivers involved in half of all crashes over the five years analysed.

The data was released as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers facing young drivers on country roads.

The research, carried out by Agilysis and the Road Safety Foundation, found 71 per cent of all young driver fatalities take place on rural roads. Department for Transport figures show that across all age groups, 57 per cent of all fatalities occur on rural roads.

The analysis also showed that young drivers were nearly 10 per cent more likely to be involved in a rural crash than older drivers and faced a higher risk of death (two per cent) or serious injury (15.2 per cent) when involved in a crash on a rural road compared to an urban road (0.6 and 11.3 per cent respectively).

Young drivers were also found to be far more likely to be involved in single-vehicle crashes, with 27 per cent of all young driver crashes on rural roads only involving one car, compared with 16 per cent for all age groups.

AA president Edmund King commented: “Many young drivers are unaware that rural roads pose a specific and significant risk to young drivers.

“Our data clearly shows that the rural road risk is highest for the youngest drivers on our roads and decreases with each year of age. This is a clear sign greater education and exposure to rural roads helps alleviate the risks they pose.”

Rural roads pose additional challenges to drivers, especially those who have only recently qualified. Higher speeds, narrow roads with sharp corners, and slippery surfaces around farms and fields are among factors thought to contribute to the higher number of crashes on country roads.

Sally Lines, chief executive of the Road Safety Trust, added: “It is important to be able to clearly identify risks to young drivers on rural roads and take steps forward to address those, whether it is through education, infrastructure improvements, or both.

“We want to make UK roads safer for all road users and these findings provide the platform to be able to help reduce the risk to young drivers.”