Steer clear of peer pressure

Posted on April 24th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

Peer pressureIsn’t it fascinating to spend time watching other people. One of my favourite driving gurus is Canadian trainer Scott Marshall, who admits to great enjoyment in seeing how people in general cooperate and interact with others around them. “To some people, they seem to be influenced a lot by other people,” he says. “I think most of us were influenced by others over the course of our lives. Peer pressure can be good as well as negative. When was the last time you did something you really didn’t want to do because of peer pressure?”

Many people feel that peer pressure comes when you’re younger and goes away when you’re older. To most people, that is the case, but for others; not so much, says Marshall. “Many years ago I had a student who was 72 years of age. She received enough peer pressure from her friends and family that made her feel that she had to meet me for her in-car lessons at the end of her street. She didn’t want anyone to know she was learning to drive so didn’t want to be picked up at her home. She said that since most people are much younger when they learn to drive, she would stick out from the crowd. Peer pressure? Absolutely.”

Confidence in yourself and what you’re doing is important as a driver. It’s important in life, but let’s just focus on driving for now. For example, knowing why you did what you just did behind the wheel is important. You need to be able to back up your decisions and feel positive about it. But if you do it because other people do it, then remember that the other drivers may be doing something wrong. Good drivers need to be leaders and not a follower when it comes to making driving decisions.

“Sometimes,” continues Scott Marshall,” When we have our friends in the vehicle we may do what they want and not what we want. When I hear when drivers were just pulled over by police for speeding and they say to the officer their friends made them drive faster. Seriously? Did their friends put pressure on their foot to make the car go faster? We’ve often dealt with this as youngsters. Remember when we would get into trouble from our parents because we did things our friends wanted us to do even though we knew it was wrong? I think it’s time to grow up and take ownership for your own actions.”

Part of getting over peer pressure for making driving choices is understanding what your needs are as a driver and being able to explain why you need to do them. For example, we often see drivers changing how they perform in the vehicle. They stop signalling for their turns, they begin rolling stops and cut the corner as they make turns. They never learned those things from a professional instructor, so where did they learn them? Their friends and family come to mind.

Whether we succumb to peer pressure or if we should hand it out, it;s not a positive or desirable situation. “Be your own person, and make your decisions based on your values. Be able to back up your thoughts and beliefs and avoid forcing others to do what you know is wrong or unsafe. Be the bigger person. Learn to accept the ideas from other people,” advises Marshall. “Who knows, you may learn a thing or two yourself.”