Be a safe passenger

As a passenger in a vehicle, you also risk death or serious injury on the road due to the actions of other road users. However, your own actions can also be to blame.

Don't distract the driver

Drivers need to concentrate and distractions within the car can make this difficult. Here are a few tips for being a good passenger:

  • wear your seat belt at all times
  • be a 'good co-pilot', for example, support the driver in ensuring that other passengers act responsibly - offer to help navigate, keep the radio volume at a reasonable level and don’t ‘channel jump’
  • try to keep all interactions to a reasonable level - the more people in the car, the more distractions there may be from conversations, music, people using mobile phones
  • if you pay attention to the road you will be able to see when a driver may need to concentrate more and could help the driver’s focus by, for example, pausing a conversation or turning down the radio
  • if you think there is an emerging danger do let the driver know - but do not shout or try to grab the steering wheel or hand brake
  • at night, don’t turn on interior lights while the car is moving as this can affect the driver's night vision
  • don’t be a ‘back-seat driver’ - you can give the driver helpful information but refrain from being negative or giving a critical or 'witty' commentary on how they are driving, particularly if they are inexperienced

If you are concerned about a driver’s behaviour

Sometimes you might be concerned about the driver’s behaviour but you are worried about their reaction. Clearly your safety is paramount, as is that of other road users including the driver, and you are advised to speak out. However, if you feel worried about being direct in addressing the issue, perhaps you might try one of the following approaches:-

Speed

If you feel the driver is going too fast, you should say so. However, if you are concerned about this, you might try something like: “I’m sorry but I’m not a good passenger. Could I ask you to slow down a bit”. This should cause no offence to the driver. Alternatively you could say that you are feeling unwell. Few drivers are prepared to have their car interior spoilt! However, if the driver still refuses to slow down then you must be direct, after all you might save his or her life as well as your own.

Drink or drugs

Never ever get into a car with a driver who has been drinking or taking drugs or who you suspect has been doing so. Do your best to persuade them not to drive.

Remind them that they could lose their licence – if they are lucky not to crash – no matter how good a driver they are when sober, they are far more likely to kill someone when impaired. Perhaps you might tell them you are anxious about travelling on your own.

Remember, anyone who is selfish enough to drink or drive and put themselves and others at risk deserves to be reported to the police. Always keep a phone number for a taxi on your mobile in case you are left without transport home. If you can’t get a taxi, ring a family member. Remember, they will much prefer to pick you up than have you risk your life in a car with a drink or drug driver.

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