According to a recent report into licence holding and driver behavior by the RAC (Berrington & Mikolai, 2014), in 2009-10 only 23% of 17 year old men and 15% of 17 year old women were in possession of a full UK driving licence. This level rose to 45% and 37% respectively at the age of 18.
The overall trend is a national decline in the levels of younger people obtaining full driving licences for a variety of reasons.
All of this means that young people are finding alternative ways of getting around. Often this means that they are opting to become passengers with other drivers – this can present road safety issues in itself.
In the emergency services the front passenger seat of a car is sometimes referred to as the ‘Sacrificial seat’. This is because during the lead up to a road traffic collision the driver will most often steer the vehicle away from the danger (oncoming tree, wall, other vehicle etc.). As a result of this evasive manoeuvre the passenger side of the vehicle takes the initially and full impact.
What can you do to reduce the risk?
If you know someone who is a risk taker and dangerous driver simply avoid travelling with them.
Plan ahead – anticipate problems. If you are going out for the night make sure that you have a plan for safe travel home. Do not leave it to chance.
If you find yourself as a passenger in a vehicle where the driver is behaving in a dangerous manner or travelling in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable get out! Tell them to stop. You do not have to be rude – tell them you are feeling unwell or need to go to the toilet. Parents will be happier that they have the slight inconvenience of having to collect you rather than having a knock on the door from the Police to tell them that you have been involved in a serious collision.