Study: Young drivers over-represented in traffic accidents

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A new study released by Or Yarok on Monday reveals that young drivers aged 20-24 are most likely to be involved in road accidents. Out of a quarter of a million people hurt in traffic accidents between 2003 and 2008, 17 percent were in this age bracket. The study, which was based on data collected by the Central Bureau of Statistics, divided the people injured in road accidents into five-year age brackets. The findings showed 20-24 year old drivers led the charts in all accidents and all categories of injury severity. During the five-year period, 423 people from this age group were killed (out of a total of 2,309), 2,350 were badly injured and 40,000 were lightly injured. The figures reveal that in most cases, young people involved in accidents were drivers, followed by passengers and motorcycle riders. "Unfortunately, like other countries around the world, in Israel young drivers are involved in too many accidents," said Or Yarok CEO Shmuel Abuav in a press release. "This reality should force the state into taking measures to pay special attention to young drivers and enact measures to reduce accidents among them, such as gradual licensing and and a ban against driving under the influence - even at low levels." The study also compiled information about traffic accidents in five major cities - Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rishon Lezion and Ashdod. It found that in Tel Aviv, between 2003 and 2009, more than 23,500 people were injured in car accidents; half were between the ages of 20 and 34. In Jerusalem, during the same time period, 15,000 people were injured and, like Tel Aviv, most of them were young. People aged 20-34 made up 45% of those injured in the capital. Haifa, where 11,000 people were injured since 2003, also saw a disproportionate rate of young people injured (45%). In Rishon Lezion the figures were slightly better. Drivers aged 20-34 sustained 40% of the 3,500 traffic accident injuries reported in the city. The trend continues in the nine medium-sized cities, where a majority of those injured in car accidents were people between the ages of 20 and 34. Or Yarok highlighted Hadera, where they point to a disproportionate number of injuries - again with a large percentage of young people involved. On the other end of the spectrum, the study noted Beit Shemesh, Israel's 20th largest city, which posted a relatively small number of injuries. Only 700 people were injured in accidents between 2003 and 2009, of them 252 between the ages of 15 and 24, making up 36 percent of the cases. Or Yarok's analysis found that the biggest problems with young drivers occur immediately after the escort period. During the first three months after receiving a license, drivers are obligated to drive with an experienced adult companion. Or Yarok's data shows that during these first months, young people's involvement in accidents is at its lowest, followed by a sharp rise in the fourth month, when an escort is no longer required. Young drivers are the focus of the activities of the Or Yarok association, which was founded in 1997 by Avi Naor, former president and CEO of Israeli hi-tech giant Amdocs, after he lost his 20-year-old son in a traffic accident during his military service.