When you travel as a passenger, you are entrusting your safety
to the driver of that vehicle. Once your journey begins, whether
you arrive safely or not, is primarily controlled by that other
- How well do you really know them?
- How much do you really trust them?
- How confident are you that they really value your life?
Consider very carefully before getting into someone’s vehicle,
think about whether you really can trust this person to value
your safety, as much as you would value theirs.
If you know them well, how sensible or how trustworthy are they?
Think about other times you have travelled with them – were there
occasions when you didn’t like an aspect of their driving because
it made you feel unsafe?
- Do they drive erratically?
- Do they accelerate harshly?
- Do they often brake harshly and suddenly?
- Do the traffic lights always seem to be turning red as this
driver passes them?
- Does it feel uncomfortable when they are close up behind
- Do they get angry with other road users?
- Do they talk on the mobile phone whilst driving?
- Do you know that they are prepared to impair their driving with
alcohol or drugs?
- Have they had many minor crashes?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then the driver you
have trusted to transport you safely, is a driver with a high risk
of crashing and clearly that has implications for you.
Harsh or erratic driving behaviour, missing hazards, having to
brake suddenly and not judging the actions of others are signs that
the driver doesn’t concentrate fully. Very few things on the road
should happen suddenly, most things are obvious to a driver reading
the road and planning properly.
A willingness to impair driving through drink, drugs or mobile
phone use displays an anti-social approach to the safety of others.
Basically “I’ll do what I like and to hell with everyone else” is
what such drivers are really thinking.
What can you do about it?
The simple answer is to find an alternative way to travel,
perhaps with someone you can trust or use public transport. This
may not always be possible, so there are other things that you as a
passenger can do to affect the way a driver behaves.
Ensure you wear a seatbelt. If there should be a crash, you are
giving yourself the best chance of avoiding serious injury.
Do not add to the poor driving behaviour by encouraging the
driver to drive faster, as more speed equals greater damage in a
crash. Tell the driver if you feel uncomfortable with their
driving. If you stay quiet, the message it sends to the driver is
that there is no problem with what they are doing, so they will
carry on doing it.
Ask the driver before the journey if their phone is switched
off, you could say “because you saw a TV programme last week about
how driver using a mobile phone (including hands-free kits) didn’t
realise the lorry in front had stopped and smashed into the back of
If you know they have been drinking, because you’ve been with
them, or you can smell alcohol, or that they may have used drugs in
the last day or so, don’t even get into the car.
If you are with a group of people in the same car, and are
worried that everyone else seems quite happy with the driver, don’t
be fooled. Normally, everyone else will share your concerns and
each person will be secretly hoping that someone says something,
and soon. Do everyone a favour and be the person to speak out.
If all else fails, make an excuse, perhaps say something like “I
feel ill, I think I’m going to be sick in your car”, this often
encourages the driver to stop as soon as possible.
Remember, your safety is in their hands. The choice of
which driver you entrust with your safety can literally be a life
and death decision. Please choose wisely.
- More women, especially young women, die as passengers than
drivers, often in crashes where the vehicle is being driven by a
- For every passenger in a vehicle, especially for people aged 17
– 24, the chance of a crash increases by 30%.