Brits taking gap years abroad are far more likely to die in a road accident than catch a tropical disease, warn leading motoring groups.
With A-level results announced today, around 30,000 18-year-olds will be thinking about heading off to overseas adventures and joining an estimated 200,000 people already working, travelling or volunteering abroad. But "gappers" aren’t just teenagers - there are a growing number of people in their 30s and 40s who are taking advantage of sabbaticals or career changes to make up for travelling they missed out on when they were younger.
Official figures show that 65% of all accidental deaths involving Brits abroad are the result of road accidents, with young males being particularly vulnerable.
The Make Roads Safe campaign and the RAC Foundation said that many areas visited by travellers do have enjoy the transport infrastructure enjoyed in the UK, where vehicles are well maintained, drivers been properly tested and licensed, and highly-trained and well-equipped paramedics are on hand.
Indeed, travellers in Thailand and Brazil are at four times the risk of being killed on the road than in the UK, 85,000 people are killed on the roads in India each year, and in Kenya and other African nations pedestrians and passengers make up around 80% of road deaths.
Laura, 28, whose gap-year friend James was killed riding pillion on a motorbike in Thailand, told Pocket-Lint: “James died just 2 weeks into his travels and was totally unaware of the dangers associated with many foreign roads. It was devastating for us all that someone that vibrant should be taken away from us so suddenly".
“I welcome any efforts to raise awareness of this problem so that other young people searching for the best year of their life know to be vigilant whenever they cross a road or get in a vehicle.”