Do you need a passenger license?
Millions upon millions of people work hard throughout their lives to get and keep their driver’s license. Quite a few take professional driver training, but some learn from their family members or friends. That in itself is quite alarming, but what about getting a “passenger license”? Should it be required for every person before they are allowed to ride next to the driver?
Through media reports we’ve come to realize that distracted driving is a huge problem within our driving society. Many jurisdictions have already banned cell phone use while driving. Even though they may be banned, many drivers have ignored those rules and laws and still text and drive or talk on their cell phone while driving. But what if it’s your passenger that is distracting you? Is there anything you can do to stop them?
I’ve come across people who crash their vehicle and more times than not, they are not alone. They will often have passengers with them. In some severe crashes, their passengers are not just injured but killed. Were the passengers involved with the driver to cause them to make a driving error? If so, what if the passengers were given rules to follow when they become passengers? Would that make their ride safer and the driver can become a better driver?
When I was much younger and rode the bus I would see signs on the bus that told the passengers to avoid speaking with the driver while the bus was in motion. Was that because the bus driver was anti-social? No, but the sign is there so the bus driver can stay focused on their driving task. Getting distracted can happen easily with passengers, so why not give the passengers rules to follow as well? The passengers ‘force’ your attention away from driving and onto their actions and conversation. Why would you want that to happen?
Once you’ve established rules for your passengers and you get them to respect and follow those rules, they build those habits each time they are in the vehicle with you. I once had a licensed driver who was going through a driver improvement program at Young Divers of Canada who had told me that he had difficulty driving and having a conversation with his wife at the same time. They had set up rules; talk while stopped and stop talking when the car begins to move. His wife respected his issue and agreed to help him stay focused on his driving while he was driving. He also had his radio turned off while he was driving. Pretty smart, huh?
If you feel you have good focus while driving in normal conditions, what happens to your focus during poor road conditions? If your passengers distract you for any reason during these poor conditions, do you think you may miss a stop sign or red light? What if the intersection has poor visibility normally; such as thick trees or bushes at the corner, would you stay focused enough to take extra caution before entering it if you were distracted by your passengers?
Set up rules to your passengers that stop them from distracting you. Separate your kids if they argue during your travels. If that isn’t possible, pull over and stop and speak with them about it. They’ll know how important it is to you to stay focused. It’s actually easier to do this with adult passengers. Decide who will sit in the front seat. Someone who is likely to move about and distract you isn’t the person you want in the front seat. A quieter person and one who normally sits still is a better front seat passenger. That means they’ll less likely distract you so you can stay focused on your driving task.
Having these rules can and will help you avoid distracted driving that your passengers can cause. I would suggest you review these rules with your passengers often enough that they become a habit for them. If they’re good, maybe they can earn their ‘passenger license’.