The ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances surrounding drivers’ first accidents has been revealed in a new report, launched by Nigel Mansell today at the Silverstone Classic.

Key findings of the report, ‘Young Drivers at Risk’, centre on a survey of motorists on the AA/Populus panel who have been involved in car crashes and shows new drivers are most at risk on the roads in the first six months or so after passing their test.

These drivers revealed nearly 40% of them had crashed by the time they were 23 years old. The results also showed a quarter (26%) had crashed within two years of gaining their licence.

The report highlights the dangers new and young drivers face on the roads, both at home and abroad, and shows ways their safety can be improved.

Compiled jointly by the AA Charitable Trust and the Make Roads Safe campaign, during the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety, the report will be launched at AA World at the Silverstone Classic.

As part of its commitment to improving road safety in the UK, the AA Charitable Trust has pledged another 1,000 free driver improvement courses for new drivers at risk.

Drive Confident and Drive Smart are both taught by AA Driving School instructors and help nervous, lapsed or over-confident drivers update their skills to stay safe on the roads.

These courses are partly funded by a grant from the FIA Foundation. The grant is also being used to create a template for the courses so other motoring organisations can implement similar schemes worldwide.

Nigel Mansell, a member of the Commission for Global Road Safety, said: “I became a world champion by driving fast. I love cars and racing. But I know the place for speed is on a race track, not on the road.

“While road deaths among the young remain a serious problem here in the UK, in many parts of the world they have become nothing less than a crisis out of control.

“Someone is being killed or maimed every six seconds. It is an epidemic that is set to double within the next few years unless we take action.

“This is a vitally important issue which doesn’t get enough attention. Too many of our young people are still being killed or injured on the roads. These are preventable tragedies.”

The report calls for young drivers to be given more opportunities to drive in a safe, off-road environment before they turn 17. Almost three quarters (73%) of UK motorists believe this would make young drivers safer.

It also shows ways in which education could be improved for young people, many years before they even think about getting into the driving seat.

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “It’s no secret that new and young drivers are disproportionately represented in road crashes and we need to work together to stem this tide of carnage.

“Road safety education must be a life skill that starts at the age of three but is continually refreshed throughout life. It needs to begin many years before someone is old enough to apply for their provisional licence.

“Our survey shows one quarter of 18-24 year olds who have had a crash had crashed within six months of taking their test. We must change this. By the age of 17 attitudes towards driving will already have been largely formed. If teenagers have had interesting and practical road safety education they are less likely to take dangerous risks when they get behind the wheel alone.

“We must also remember that when driving, practical training counts for nothing if the driver is impaired through drink, drugs and driver distractions such as mobile phones.

“Road crashes are not only the leading cause of death and injury for young people in the UK, but also across the world. We need safer drivers in safer cars on safer roads, to reduce these preventable deaths in the UK and across the globe.”