Teenagers get the peer pressure speech all the time: “just say no,” “don’t give in,” etc. But it’s an important message, and when it comes to driving – where things can happen in the blink of an eye – dealing with peer pressure becomes an urgent matter. In fact, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm conducted two studies on the effects of peer pressure on teen driving, both of which found that there is a negative impact when teens are surrounded by their friends behind the wheel.
One study found that those teen drivers who drive with multiple passengers often consider themselves “thrill seekers” and have a “weak perception” of the risks that come with driving. The second study looked at a sample of teen drivers who had been involved in serious car accidents. The results showed that the teens who had passengers in their vehicles were more likely to be distracted right before a crash than those teens who were alone in their vehicles prior to a crash.
The most alarming result from the study was that male drivers with passengers were nearly six times more likely to carry out illegal driving maneuvers, and more than twice as likely to drive aggressively prior to an accident, than those males that were driving alone.
The data highlights the unfavorable influence that teens have on their companions. So if you’re dealing with peer pressure behind the wheel, use these tips to help you get a better handle on it.
Don’t Let Your Friends Call the Shots
When you’re behind the wheel, you’re in charge of making the decisions – practicing safe defensive driving techniques is all in your hands. Your friends may want you to turn that song way up or speed up to blow through that yellow light, but driving to impress is never a good idea. Ultimately, you have to do what’s safest – you’re responsible for everyone you’re driving, after all.
Blame Your Parents
If you’re being pressured to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you can always say that your parents will take away your keys if you break the rules. Your friends may be upset, but chances are they would rather you keep your driving privileges. (If you don’t have one already, download and print I DRIVE SAFELY’s Parent-Teen Driving Contract and fill it out with your parents. It will help you come to mutual agreements on driving rules, and have a solid understanding of what is and isn’t allowed when you’re driving.)
Call Home If Necessary
We know calling your folks at a party may seem uncool. But remember, drinking and driving just don’t mix – it’s such a deadly combination. So, if you’ve been drinking and your friends are pressuring you to drive, calling home is simply the right thing to do. Even if it means getting into trouble and time spend being grounded to your room, it’s a far better decision than getting into an accident, getting a DUI, or worse.
Above all, as a new driver you need to make safe, responsible decisions. It can be hard to stand up for what you believe in when others are trying to convince you otherwise, but you’ll all be better off in the long run if you do.