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Driven to distraction...

New research from reveals how troublesome passengers are endangering drivers

Posted on 20 Sep 2013

  • More than a third of motorists (35%) say passengers affect their driving behaviour
  • One in 20 motorists (7%) involved in an accident when travelling with people in the car blamed the behaviour of their passengers
  • Drivers cite partners and spouses (34%) as the most distracting passengers
  • Motorists would rather travel with a hitchhiker in the car than their husband or wife*

27 September 2013: New research by leading insurance price comparison website reveals that more than a third of motorists (35%) admit that their driving is affected by who is travelling in the car with them.

According to the findings, a fifth of motorists (19%) have had an accident when travelling with someone in the car with them, with 7% of these blaming the behaviour of their passenger for the incident.  

Travelling with a troublesome passenger can impact a driver’s behaviour in a number of ways. One in five drivers (21%) admit to getting more easily distracted when they have a passenger in their vehicle, with a further one in six motorists (15%) saying that they get stressed by the actions of their passengers.

And it's not just a case of passengers irritating and annoying drivers - one in four (25%) motorists also claim to feel nervous when they have someone travelling in the car with them.

Parents top the list as motorists’ least favourite car companion (16%), closely followed by drivers’ husbands/wives (14%). More than a third (34%) of motorists admit to being distracted more easily when driving with their other half in their car. In fact, motorists would rather travel with a hitchhiker in the car than their spouse.*

This may be down to the fact that hitchhikers seem to add an element of fun to a journey, with 15% of drivers admitting to singing along to music and playing games (10%) with their random companions.

The findings also reveal that drivers are most likely to change their behaviour when travelling with children (32%) in the car. Of these, more than three quarters (79%) admit to driving more carefully with children in tow, with a further 29% saying that they concentrate more on the road with little ones on board.

Younger drivers aged 18-34 appear to be the most affected by their passengers, with nearly half of these motorists (47%) admitting to driving differently depending on who they are travelling with. Drivers in this age group are the most likely to show off (9%) or drive faster (8%) when they have passengers in their car, compared with just 1% of those aged 55+.

Bad passenger behaviours identified by include:

1.) Giving directions (back-seat driving) – 24%
2.) Comments on driving speed – 19%
3.) Talking too much in the car – 17%
4.) Passengers fiddling with the radio or cd player – 10%
5.) Passengers talking on their phone or texting – 5%

Gemma Stanbury, Head of Car Insurance at says:

“Our research shows that having other people in the car can distract us from the road and potentially lead to accidents, which in turn can increase the cost of our car insurance premiums.

“In order to tackle this problem, drivers and passengers alike need to take responsibility for their actions. This means passengers need to stop being back seat drivers and doing anything that could affect drivers’ behaviour. Drivers also need to ensure that they’re not bowing to peer pressure and are giving their full attention to the road, being mindful to not give into distractions while behind the wheel.”


Notes to Editors:
All figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll Research on behalf of An online poll of 2,000 nationally representative sample of UK drivers, aged 18+. Conducted in September 2013.

* 16% cited their husband or wife as their least favourite passenger compared to 12% who cited hitchhikers.

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Launched in 2002, was the UK's first price comparison site for car insurance and is one of the UK’s biggest and most popular price comparison services, generating over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the last couple of years to include small van insurance, motorcycle insurance, car buying and selling, and car finance, as well as a number of tools designed to save drivers money on motoring. is not a supplier, insurance company or broker. It provides an objective and unbiased comparison service. By using cutting-edge technology, it has developed a series of intelligent web-based solutions that evaluate a number of risk factors to help customers with their decision-making, subsequently finding them great deals on a wide-range of insurance products, financial services, utilities and more.’s service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by UK suppliers and industry regulators. is owned by the Admiral Group plc. Admiral listed on the London Stock Exchange in September 2004. is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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