Ford Media Center

Distractions and Alcohol Pose Danger to Young Drivers: More 18-24-year-olds Die on the Roads in Summer

  • Worldwide, car crashes are leading cause of death for young people. In Europe, young people are almost twice as likely to be killed on roads compared with the average person
  • Ford survey of more than 6,500 young Europeans shows 43% have texted, 36% have taken phone calls, 11% have watched mobile videos while driving; 13% have driven after drinking  
  • Survey also shows that 26% have had an accident, 20% have been in a car stopped by police. In summer, when deaths peak, 68% are more relaxed about their driving.
  • Ford publishes spoof video for “Blown Ups” – inflatable grownups that are designed to prevent reckless behaviour behind the wheel. Survey reveals 41% take more risks with friends in car, and up to 57% drive more safely with older relatives
  • Ford Driving Skills for Life offers free training for young drivers. By the end of 2016, the programme will have trained more than 20,000 drivers across 13 countries in Europe.

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COLOGNE, Germany, July 28, 2016 – Research shows that worldwide, car crashes are the leading cause of death among young people, with a higher proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds dying on the roads than at any other time of year.*

In Europe, 18- to 24-year-olds account for 8 per cent of the total population, but 15 per cent of all those killed in road accidents.  In the summertime, the problem gets worse as 18- to 24-year-olds account for 21 per cent of all deaths on the road in summer. **

Risky behaviour has been identified as a key factor behind the statistics, which also show that from 2004 to 2013, 62,000 young people were killed in road accidents in the European Union. ** According to the report by European Road Safety Observatory, poor reading of the road, impairment from substances or stress and distraction are among the most common factors in accidents involving young drivers.

Ford commissioned a survey of 6,500 young Europeans to better understand the risks taken by young drivers. *** This shows that 57 per cent have exceeded speed limits, 43 per cent have sent a text while driving, 36 per cent have taken calls and sent instant messages, 16 per cent have driven without wearing their seatbelts, 13 per cent have driven after drinking, and up to 11 per cent have watched videos or TV shows on their devices.

Ford offers free training for young drivers with Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL). In Europe, by the end of 2016, the programme will have trained more than 20,000 drivers across 13 countries.

“Summer is a great time to enjoy the freedom of driving, which is as much a part of being young today as it was for previous generations. But too many young adults are dying in car crashes caused by a combination of inexperience and poor decision making,” said Jim Graham, manager, Ford DSFL.

Up to 57 per cent of young drivers also admit they drive more safely with parents or grandparents in the car, and 41 per cent said they would take more risks with friends in the car. For this reason Ford has created a new spoof video to showcase the virtues of “Blown Ups.” This fictional product is an inflatable grownup, triggered to expand when young drivers are reckless behind the wheel; and serves as a reminder of the expanding DSFL programme.  

Among the attractions of driving in summer are road trips, festivals, and the beach. The survey showed 68 per cent of young people feel more relaxed about their driving in the summer months, and overall 54 per cent are distracted by attractive pedestrians.

Of those surveyed, 45 per cent admit they would be tempted to drive a car overloaded with friends, 25 per cent to accept a lift from someone they knew had been drinking, and 24 per cent to drive after taking drugs; with numbers increasing for frequent festival goers. Overall, 41 per cent believe there are sometimes good reasons for taking risks while driving, 26 per cent have had an accident, and 20 per cent have been in a car that was stopped by the police.

A total of 93 per cent consider they have good driving skills – but 54 per cent admit they are not always as safe as they should be while driving.

The majority of young driver fatalities involve young men, and the Ford survey confirms they are more likely to engage in risky behaviour. Young men are three times as likely as young women to be distracted by attractive pedestrians; 25 per cent have been stopped by police compared with 16 per cent of women; and they are more likely to speed, use mobile phones while driving, and drink drive.

Across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K., of those surveyed, drivers in France are most likely to have been in a car that was stopped by the police. Those in Germany are the least likely to worry about being in a car accident and the most likely to speed or have had an accident. Drivers in Italy are most likely to use their mobile phone for calls, while those in Spain are most likely to take risks when giving lifts to friends. U.K. drivers are most likely to have had an accident after being distracted by an attractive pedestrian.  

First launched in the U.S. 13 years ago, Ford DSFL now offers hands-on training in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the U.K.  Classes cover hazard recognition, vehicle handling, and speed and space management; as well as the risks posed by drinking and driving, driving after taking drugs, and taking selfies – after a previous survey, commissioned by Ford in 2014, showed that then 1 in 4 young drivers had taken a “selfie” at the wheel.

“It is crucial that we find the right way to reach young people with these very important messages and to ensure that as many drivers as possible have the opportunity to benefit from DSFL training,” Graham said.

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*World Health Organisation Global Status Report On Road Safety 2015

** European Road Safety Observatory


*** Research findings are based on a survey of 6,500 young Europeans fielded in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain in June 2016. The research was carried out by Lightspeed GMI, a globally integrated research organization. Lightspeed GMI is an award-winning global digital data collection enterprise. Founded in 1996, its innovative technology and proven sampling methodologies deliver operational excellence throughout the online research process. With more than 5.5 million online research respondents in 40+ countries, Lightspeed GMI’s proprietary panels deliver unparalleled quality, capacity and targeting. Headquartered in Warren, New Jersey, Lightspeed GMI is part of Kantar, the data investment management arm of WPP, the world leader in marketing communication services. For more information, visit



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