Think before you accept a lift home from the party
ROAD SAFETY organisation GEM Motoring Assist is keen to help young people concerned about accepting lifts from a potentially risky driver.
GEM chief executive David Williams MBE comments: “The Christmas party season is upon us – a sociable and enjoyable time when young people are going from one event to another.
“A late night lift home from a friend, or a friend of a friend, might seem the ideal option, as it’s convenient and cheap. But many young people will recall recent experiences when they felt unsafe, anxious or afraid as passengers on a car journey.
“The driver could be speeding, following too close, swerving or braking harshly, or using the phone – all symptoms of a desire to show off, backed up by that sense of invincibility that tells them accidents happen to others.
“Nervous or concerned passengers often feel unable to do anything about what they see as the increased risk. They generally don’t say anything on the journey, because they don’t want to create conflict, they have a low belief in their ability to influence the driver and they also don’t want to appear ungrateful for their lift.”
Studies have shown that young drivers’ accident risk increases when they are accompanied by passengers of similar age – particularly when the passengers are male. So as well as being more prone to speeding and risk taking, they also tend to be good at banishing the possibility of a crash from their thinking.
David Williams concludes: “We encourage young people to plan their travel options. Sharing taxis, using public transport or taking turns to be driver can all work with planning, and will help to avoid situations where they may be stuck in the back of a car on a journey where they feel scared or nervous.
“If you do find yourself in just such a situation, especially if you don’t know the driver, then an usually effective technique is to speak up and blame yourself as a nervous passenger, or to explain that you feel sick. Most drivers will respond quickly and positively to the threat of having their car interior spoilt.”
GEM offers five tips for anyone concerned about safety as a passenger:
1. Try to avoid putting yourself in a situation of risk by needing a lift with a friend or other young driver. Use public transport if it’s available, or share the cost of a taxi.
2. Think about the person who will be driving you before you get in a car. If you have any doubts about safety, then don’t get in the car.
3. If you suspect a driver has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, it’s vital that you don’t accept a lift. You can also contact Crimestoppers who will pass the information to the police. This is all done anonymously – you won’t be identified.
4. If you do get into a car, always wear your seatbelt whether you’re sitting in the front or the back.
5. If you feel the driver is going too fast, or seems distracted, or is following too close, then you could say something along the lines of: ‘I’m sorry but I’m not a good passenger. Could I ask you just to slow down a bit?’ This hopefully has the effect of reducing tension, with no offence taken by the driver. You could also claim to be feeling unwell.
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