Bereaved parents of car crash victim call for graduated driver licences to avoid more road deaths

Kris Jepson went to meet the parents of Andrew Rowlings who, for the first time, shared footage of him leaving home before the car crash that killed him

The parents of an 18-year-old who died in a car crash have called on the government to introduce graduated driver licences for newly qualified drivers to avoid more deaths on our roads.

Andrew Rowlands, from County Durham, was 18 when he was killed in a car crash in June 2020. He had gone to fix a car for friends, but the car had been bought for £100 the night before and was illegal and unroadworthy. The driver of the car was 17 and had no licence.

Andrew was travelling as a passenger when the car crashed and he died from his injuries.

His mum, Karen Rowlands, told ITV Tyne Tees: "We’ve lost everything. We lost our future. Our life just ended the day we lost Andrew, but there are kids out there who are still living and we have to protect those kids. We have to give them their future."

Mrs Rowlands and her husband, John, have joined a group of bereaved parents called the Forget Me Not Families United group in calling on the government to introduce graduated driver licences for all newly qualified drivers.

Andrew Rowlings died in car crash in June 2020. Credit: Family Handout

It would mean the new young drivers would be prohibited from travelling with peer passengers for the first six months after their test.

"A car is a dangerous thing," Mr Rowlands said. "Get used to it, get confident with it, before you fill it with your friends on a weekend, because there are so many distractions.

"You could have a car full of your friends in and there could be a bit of music on in the background, they could be talking to each other, and you’re kind of earwigging and stuff and bang, before you know it, you’re in a serious situation.

"I don’t believe it’s mandatory to put a P plate on your car. It’s an option. Maybe something like that would be looked at, that is mandatory, you’ve got to have the P plate on and if I’m seen carrying a car full of passengers and my car has got a P plate on it, then all of a sudden that is going to preempt the police to pull me over.

"And I don’t want to lose my licence if I’ve just got it. So simple things like that, there’s lots of options, but start having the conversation really, that’s all we need to do."

Andrew's parents have called for increased safety measures for young newly qualified drivers. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

One in five young drivers have crashed within a year of passing their test, according to the latest data and more than 1,500 young drivers are killed or seriously injured each year.The AA's research found 72% of people agree with the introduction of Graduated Driver Licences for new drivers, while 76% would like to introduce eye tests for drivers over 70.

President of the AA, Edmund King said: "Every driver needs experience and just after you've passed your test, you haven't got that experience.

"So actually waiting another six months before you can have same age passengers isn't really too much to ask and it will keep many young people alive.

"There are far too many crashes we hear about with four or five teenagers in the car, it is really tragic and there is something we can do to counter this."

A government spokesperson said: "While the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, any death is a tragedy which is why we continue working tirelessly to improve road safety for everyone.

"Our THINK! campaign is specifically targeted at young male drivers, and we have commissioned research designed to help learner and newly-qualified drivers improve their skills and safety."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...