Road Safety for Young People Is a Global Challenge

12 May 2022 News & Campaigns

With around 175,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 killed in road accidents worldwide, this age group is estimated to have accounted for around 15 percent of all road fatalities in 2019. 80 percent of them were young men. In order to lower these figures, there is a need for action on a whole range of issues, as this report has shown. Measures relating to vehicle technology and road infrastructure should take just as high a priority as increased hazard awareness on the part of all road users.

For years, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the organization Youth for Road Safety (YOURS), which the WHO helped set up in 2009, have noted that more young people between 15 and 29 around the world die every year in traffic accidents than from HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, or homicide. Hardly anything has changed to this day. Although the total numbers of people in this age group either killed or seriously injured in road traffic have fallen over the years, they are still well above the average for the other age groups per 100,000 or one million inhabitants. Young people are mostly involved in accidents as passengers in cars and on motorcycles.
The risks, whether taken consciously or unconsciously, are well known. Excessive speed, overconfidence, the influence of alcohol and drugs, and distractions are just as important here as not wearing a seat belt and riding a (motor)bike without a helmet. If novice drivers in particular are also driving on smaller roads in non-built-up areas with tighter bend radii – perhaps at the wheel of an older vehicle with technical defects – the risk of an accident is increased many times over.
In order to take effective countermeasures which are sustainable over the long-term, major efforts from the parties concerned are necessary. Vehicle technology, road infrastructure, legislation, traffic controls, road safety education with accompanying campaigns, driving instruction, and further measures when it comes to prevention and minimizing the outcomes of accidents are all crucial factors. The periodic vehicle inspection must also not be forgotten, so as to ensure the good working order of mechanical and electronic components of vehicle safety systems. Despite all these measures, the individual concerned has the greatest influence on the possible occurrence of an accident, and this will remain the case for the foreseeable future.


Responsible behavior, paying constant attention to the road, a realistic assessment of one's own abilities, and a high degree of acceptance of the rules by all road users are essential. It is not without reason, for example, that the German Road Traffic Act states: "A person using the road shall act in such a way as not to harm or endanger or, more than is unavoidable in the circumstances, to hinder or inconvenience any other person."
The fact is that young people lack experience when it comes to road traffic. Their mileage by car, for example, is often only a few thousand kilometers per year. The Forsa survey commissioned by DEKRA, which has already been mentioned several times in this report, showed, for instance, that 40 percent of drivers aged 18 to 24 travel an average of less than 5,000 kilometers per year by car and 25 percent drive around 5,000 to 10,000 kilometers. A lack of driving experience means that in many situations young drivers do not yet react in a way which "experienced" road users would expect. The latter then express their annoyance at this by tailgating or loudly honking their horns in turn. This behavior is not uncommon. It is therefore not surprising that 84 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds in the Forsa survey would like everyone involved in road traffic to be more considerate of one another. 79 percent would like to see less aggressive behavior. Of course, such behavior can also be observed time and time again among young road users. But the vast majority, it should be stressed, are unobtrusive and do follow the rules when they are on the road.