Whether we care to admit it, having a passenger in the car can undoubtedly have an effect on our driving ─ and usually not for the better. In fact, a recent survey by Admiral car insurance has found that many motorists actually find fellow travellers incredibly distracting.
In the survey, which consulted 2,000 motorists, 39 per cent of respondents admitted that having someone else in the car diverted their attention away from the road, with 17 per cent going as far as saying the actions of their fellow traveller caused a crash or a near-miss.
The results found the most distracting things drivers have to endure are passengers backseat driving (37 per cent) and children making a racket (37 per cent). Even general chit-chat was off-putting for 30 per cent of participants.
A further 38 per cent of drivers admitted their driving style was altered when ferrying people around, with 29 per cent claiming they drive more slowly and carefully ─ presumably so as not to upset the in-laws or wake the baby.
With those facts in mind, it’s no surprise that 23 per cent said having a passenger around made them a more nervous driver. With four out of every ten motorists favoured solitary driving and
Women – no doubt badgered by back-seat-driving blokes – were more likely to dislike driving with a passenger. In fact, nearly twice as many women than men would prefer driving alone, even though twice as many men than women admitted to having a crash while in the presence of someone else.
Admiral insurance detailed some of the typical annoyances that arise from having somebody else in the car, many of which are utterly ridiculous but definitely plausible:
-A wasp entered the car, my girlfriend flipped out and caused a big scene and I crashed into the kerb
-Drunk and loud friends were distracting me by talking and singing
-I got drowsy because my passenger insisted on having the heater turned up full
-My ex wife slapped me in the face whilst I was driving at speed on the M5
-My mate poked me in the eye whilst I was driving on a roundabout. I could not see a thing and had to stop
-My mother held her arm right in front of my eyes in order to show me where to turn
-My partner tried to force me to change lanes even though a car was about to overtake. He leaned over and tried to take the steering wheel to steer the car into the outside lane
-My sister, a non driver, leant across me to beep my horn and wave out of my window at a friend
-Passenger pulled up the handbrake
-Someone asked for a lighter in the back and I accidentally shunted the car in front.
Admiral managing director Sue Longthorn said of the findings: “Whilst these are extreme examples of accidents caused by passengers they do highlight how easy it is to be sidetracked by the people in your vehicle, whether they’re noisy children or adults who think they know how you should be driving.
“Motorists are carrying passengers in three out of ten of the accidents reported to us and the most common type of accident for a motorist with passengers is where another vehicle has hit our customer’s open door. I’m sure many of us have been guilty at some point of not always paying attention when exiting our car and it seems this type of accident probably has something to do with talking to passengers instead of checking for traffic.”
Having passengers in a car is an essential part of driving and it certainly helps limit the total number of cars on the road. But if somebody is making your nervous or affecting your performance behind the wheel, it’s probably best to tell your passenger (or passengers) politely to keep their driving tips to themselves or get out.