Young drivers are being put in dangerous positions by passengers who wonâ€™t let them focus on driving, according to a poll of recently qualified drivers.
While the business of passing the test is hard enough it seems that young drivers find things tough once theyâ€™ve got their licence due to friends and family causing a distraction.
A poll by insurer More Than has found that over a third (35 per cent) of drivers aged 18 to 25 said carrying friends in the car distracted them from the main business of driving. And 85 per cent of those questioned believed that distracting passengers were more likely to cause them to have an accident.
In fact, 16 per cent of those question said they had crashed due to being distracted, leaving them Â£542 out of pocket on average.
Driving without due care and attention is a criminal offence and drivers caught can be fined up to Â£2,500 and be given nine penalty points.
For drivers with less than two yearsâ€™ experience that means an automatic disqualification and having to resit the driving test.
Worryingly, some young drivers feel the need to show off for their passengers while others feel pressured into driving dangerously by friends encouraging them to speed (18 per cent) play music distractingly loud (23 per cent), eat and drink at the wheel (19 per cent), or even use their phone (five per cent) whilst on the move.
If such behaviour strays into â€œdangerous drivingâ€ territory the punishments are even more severe, with unlimited fines, a driving ban and even prison on the cards.
And for anyone caught using a phone there’s a Â£200 fine and six penalty points – enough to send new drivers straight back to the testing centre.
Gareth Davies, head of motors at More Than, commented: â€œThe majority of young drivers drive well. However, our research shows that itâ€™s not always the drivers who cause problems behind the wheel. Anything or anyone that takes a driverâ€™s eyes off the road or affects the driverâ€™s concentration, even if for a few seconds, is a huge hazard to both them and other road users.
â€œWhat friends and passengers deem fun at the time can have serious consequences, so we want to encourage passengers to have more awareness of their behaviours whilst in cars and to take more responsibility as passengers.â€