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Do vehicle passengers lead to distracted driving?

While most drivers agree that certain activities can result in behind-the-wheel distractions, people see some habits as too commonplace to be dangerous. Individuals recognize that texting while driving, personal grooming or reading in traffic are dangerous habits for drivers. However, something as simple as having other people in the vehicle can lead to a loss of focus on the road.

Vehicle passengers come in all forms. From giving rides to friends and carpool participants to chauffeuring children and pets to various obligations, some drivers are rarely alone in the car. Unfortunately, while this is a common occurrence, it is far from harmless. In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released data that might come as a shock.

  • Young children in the car are four times more distracting to drivers than adults.
  • Infants in the car are eight times more distracting to drivers than adults.

Drivers often concern themselves with chatting, providing snacks, breaking up arguments and soothing their younger passengers. All these reactions, unfortunately, remove a driver’s focus from the primary task at hand – the safe operation of the motor vehicle. A distracted driver can drift into oncoming traffic, drive through an intersection or fail to recognize dangerous road conditions. A collision caused by a distracted driver can result in severe injuries such as head trauma, spinal cord damage, paralysis and amputation. Based on certain factors, a collision might kill vehicle occupants.

Can passengers be a positive influence?

While passengers often represent driving distractions, adult vehicle occupants can provide warnings or guidance in certain situations. A passenger who is also an experienced driver can provide an extra set of eyes to warn of traffic hazards, dangerous weather or warning signals. Unfortunately, helpful passengers might be a rare occurrence.