There are a number of dangers associated with new drivers who have recently passed their driving test carrying passengers in their vehicle. In fact this danger is so well recognised in the UK that the authorities have recommended a restriction on the carriage of passengers by young drivers. Whether this recommendation will translate into legislation remains to be seen, but the danger for young drivers is ever present. This is even reflected in the high rates that can be charged for young drivers car insurance.
The Background to the Danger
For the majority of young drivers, passing the driving test is a landmark in freedom and independence. Now, the young driver can go out where and when they want, without having to rely upon public transport or their parents.
It is only natural therefore that young drivers would want to transport their friends with them. This may be a matter of convenience or it may be a desire to show off their new found freedom or driving skills. This in itself is harmless. The problem lies once a number of passengers travel with the driver.
A Dangerous Distraction
Young drivers simply do not have the in-depth knowledge or the experience to be able to multi-task when driving. In fact, it is questionable whether this is advisable for even the most experienced drivers.
Having a conversation while driving, or even listening to the passengers having a conversation, is a distraction from the road ahead. This is exacerbated if the passengers are animated or fidgety. If the driver’s attention is taken by the passengers rather than driving the car, a serious danger is posed. At this early stage in driving, the young driver should be able to focus all their attention on the road ahead.
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The Dangers of Peer Pressure
While the danger of distraction is very real, an even more potent danger comes from peer pressure. Young drivers tend to be exceptionally susceptible to peer-pressure and their driving can become particularly dangerous as a result. Friends can often pressure the driver into driving faster or more recklessly with very little regard for the consequences. This is where the real danger lies when it comes to young drivers carrying passengers. The more risks that the driver takes, the greater the potential for accidents.
It has been found that young male drivers are especially susceptible to peer-pressure, particularly when carrying male passengers that are much more likely to goad the driver into performing risky manoeuvres. The driver is also more likely to comply when carrying male passengers, as male drivers tend to be more protective of female passengers and therefore drive more carefully.
Finally, male passengers are considerably less likely to reprimand a male driver for risky driving than female passengers. Therefore, the mixture of a male driver with male passengers has the potential to be exceptionally dangerous.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to solve this problem. The actions of drivers and passengers within the seclusion of the car cannot be effectively policed. Moreover, to ban young drivers from carrying passengers altogether would be a shame, although this is what the proposal mentioned at the outset suggests.
Perhaps the solution lies within a combination of improved education and greater deterrents. Educating young drivers on the consequences of their actions and highlighting the fragile nature of life may go some way to reducing the number of accidents each year. Moreover, improved enforcement of the law, as well as greater deterrents for dangerous driving, may further reduce the risks that young drivers take.