Throughout the time you’re learning to drive, your instructor will continually reinforce how important it is that you’re in control of the vehicle at all times.
A key part of this is avoiding distractions, and when you’re driving with passengers, they are actually one of the biggest distractions possible.
Having passengers in the car can be great in so many scenarios, not to mention necessary.
They can create conversation during long, tiring drives which help keep you alert, they can give you confidence when you’re an inexperienced driver and they will often make long journeys more fun.
However, research by the AA back in 2014 illustrates how distracting passengers can actually be.
18% of its surveyed members claimed to have been distracted, had a near-miss or been involved in an accident as a result of having their attention taken by adult passengers.
This can be even worse in the case of children.
Being distracted at the wheel can run you into trouble with police as well.
If you’re pulled over by police because they believe you to be driving dangerously, driving without due care and attention, careless and inconsiderate driving or failure to be in proper control of a vehicle, then you can expect fines and points in your licence.
All of these can potentially come as a result of being distracted by passengers while driving.
Driving with passengers is just about unavoidable, plus, one of the benefits of driving is the convenience it can offer other people such as friends, family and work colleagues, however, knowing how to reduce the chances of being distracted while driving with passengers is vital.
Our guide aims to do just that; to give you some information and advice which will help your car journeys to be safer in future when you have passengers present.
The guide has been split in to the following sections:
Here are some steps to take which can help you master driving with passengers in the car so that you don’t get distracted.
Reduce The Number Of Passengers:
Probably the most effective way of reducing the chances of you being distracted while driving is to reduce the number of passengers you carry.
Driving with a full car is likely to bring distractions, especially if they’re all friends who may be having a bit of banter or a lively discussion.
They’re likely to involve you in this which takes your focus off the road.
So, try and split passengers between other cars when possible or simply limit your car to one or two passengers.
It’s actually better for your car and fuel economy as well – a lighter car uses less fuel and will probably put less strain on your vehicle as well.
Pick Your Passengers:
This is particularly helpful for newer, less experienced drivers.
Pick who you allow to travel as a passenger – for example, trustworthy friends and family who are quieter and are less likely to distract you while driving.
It’s a small thing, but if they also understand your need to focus on what you’re doing, then they’ll leave you to it.
Make It A Comfortable Environment:
If you do have passengers in the car, then make sure it’s comfortable for them so they’re less likely to hassle you.
For example, on a hot day make sure the air con is on and everyone is comfortable.
If it’s cold, then you may need the heaters on and some demisters on the windows.
Also, allow them to raise/lower headrests and other things so long as it doesn’t interfere with you and your driving position.
Don’t Be Tempted To Go Faster:
If you’re a new driver, or driving a group of friends, they may inadvertently pressure you to get to the destination quicker.
This is dangerous for all of you, and also puts you at a higher risk of making mistakes behind the wheel.
Always travel at your own speed, on your own time and on a route you want to travel.
Ensure Everyone Is Buckled In!
Finally, as the driver, you hold some amount of responsibility to ensure all passengers have fastened their seat-belts, a legal requirement.
So, make sure you check that everyone has buckled up before you set off and if somebody hasn’t, then don’t drive until they have done so.
It’s for everyone’s benefit.
Here’s a few additional hints and tips relating to carrying passengers in your car with you.
Never Exceed Capacity:
When you are driving with passengers, never cram more people in than is permitted in your car.
Stick to the legal number and ensure they’re all buckled up.
Let Passengers Know Where You Stand:
If you feel uncomfortable with a lot of noise in the car, then make your passengers aware beforehand.
If they’re riding in your car, then they should behave in a way that makes you comfortable.
While it may be the opposite of what you originally think of when you drive passengers, if your first passengers are trustworthy close family or friends then why not ask them for some feedback at the end of the journey?
This turns a nerve-wracking experience when you may be keen to impress into an extension of your driver education.
They may be able to give you a couple of pointers about something you did, such as being too nervous, looking away from the road to talk or another similar thing which is easy to fix.
So, having passengers in your car shortly after passing your test can be a huge positive!
Driving with passengers should be something that you enjoy.
It helps make journeys more enjoyable and having passengers is one of the benefits of learning to drive – it allows you to drive on holiday, go for days out, visit friends or perhaps drive back to university.
However, the key is to be competent and strong enough to ignore them when required so that you do not become distracted by their presence.
They will understand, plus, by prioritising concentrating on the road, you’re actually looking after their safety and well-being as well.