A new Europe-wide study shows that attractive pedestrians are driving young drivers to distraction, and that the problem is most pronounced when 18-24-year-old British men get behind the wheel.
The research, commissioned by Ford and surveying more than 6,500 young European drivers across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, was designed to understand more about potentially risky driving habits.
Globally road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among young adults. According to the European Union's European Road Safety Observatory 15% of people killed in road accidents in 2013 were aged between 18-24, yet this age group only represents 8% of the European Union's population.
In the summer months the number of fatal accidents spikes. The same study of data from 2004-2015 shows August is the most dangerous month for young drivers, accounting for 11% of all fatalities on the road.
Ford found that over two thirds of respondents admitted to being more relaxed in their approach to driving during the summer months and this leads to greater risk-taking.
For example, 57% admitted to breaking the speed limit, 16% have driven without a seatbelt and 43% said that they have sent a text message while driving.
"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 Driving Skills For Life.
However, not all distractions are within the cabin. Losing concentration because of an attractive pedestrian is also an issue. Ford found that young male drivers were three times more likely than young women to be distracted by attractive passers by and that of the countries surveyed, young British men were the most likely in the whole of Europe to let their minds drift in this situation.
The majority of young driver fatalities involve men and those men surveyed by Ford were the most likely to break the speed limit, or to use their smartphone while behind the wheel. One quarter of male respondents said that they'd been stopped by the police compared with 16% of women. Drivers in Italy are most likely to use their cell phone, while drivers in France were found to be most likely to have been in a car stopped by police at some point.
Still, there is some good news for worried parents. When young drivers are behind the wheel with parents or grandparents, 57% of all respondents said that they make a concerted effort to drive more safely.