How to drive safely with friends in the car

Young lad drives with young girl in the front passener seat

From time to time we like to give a big shout out to our colleagues at Think! for their road safety videos. And would you know it, they’ve hit the jackpot again. Click on over to their website and check out the excellent ‘Party Car’ videos. Once you’re done, scoot back here and we’ll talk some more.

Stating the case

Back? Great. So, it should be pretty obvious why we’re blogging on this topic, but the stats say that obvious or not, the message doesn’t always cut through. The bottom line is that young males (that’s all you fine fellows in the 17-24 age range) are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with car drivers aged 25 or over. Young males are also more likely to crash with passengers in the car.

OK, that’s bad… very bad.   But there’s some good news too - with a few rules and a bit of diplomacy, you can swerve trouble and keep going out with your mates. After all, you didn’t pass your test just so you can drive to work or college, did you?

Driven to distraction

Just before we dive in, there’s something you should know about. According to traffic psychology boffins, noise from radios, phones, CDs and passengers falls into a category of problems known as ‘distractions’. The posh way to define this is ‘any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the driving task’. Bear this in mind as you read through the next section, as it underpins everything we’re going to look at.

(Don’t) dodge the bullets

Here’s our crucial five. Lodge this advice in your brain and you should be good for a safer drive:

  • If you plan to take your mates out for a drive, have a word with them before you set off. Lay out ground rules that clearly state what you’re comfortable or not comfortable with
  • If your bestie is in the group, ask them to support you. Point out that there’s nothing unreasonable about wanting to give your friends a safe ride
  • If the boys (and/or girls) are getting a bit rowdy, don’t feel bad about asking them to stop
  • If they refuse to listen, pulling in to a safe place to let things calm down is by far the safest option
  • Don’t be pressured into taking anyone who’s been drinking or taking drugs. Their levels of self-control are likely to be affected, which could leave you in a very awkward place with the law. Implement a zero-tolerance approach to booze and drugs and your drive will get a lot easier

Blog out some time

Way back we published some blogs that delve deeper into the mysteries of distraction, decision-making and attitude. We’ll be writing some more about these oh-so-important topics in the coming weeks, so check back here regularly. If you can’t wait that long, head over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Better Driving. It’s packed full of advice designed to help you become a better, safer driver. There are also plenty of other goodies, including the industry standard driving manual, Driving – the essential skills, and some great free advice in the Driver Knowledge Centre.