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Young drivers are pressured to take selfies at the wheel

Sean O'Grady
iStock

It is probably true that younger drivers have always been more reckless than their parents and grandparents, though there is no age limit on stupidity on the road. Perhaps, though, in the past cars were less powerful and the roads a little quieter, so they may not have had such opportunities to hurt themselves and others. Then again, car is also much safer nowadays. In any case, every generation finds new ways to cause trouble for itself.

Thus, taking selfies, using mobile phones and, more traditionally, breaking the speed limit are just some of the risks young drivers feel under peer pressure to take, research released by Marmalade, a specialist young driver insurer, reveals.

More than four in 10 (42 per cent) of 18 to 25-year-old drivers have felt pressure from passengers to overtake, while nearly a third (29 per cent) are being badgered to break the legal speed limit, according to the study.

A fifth (18 per cent) reported they have been asked by peers to use their mobile phone at the wheel, despite the practice (at least of speaking on the phone) being illegal since 2003, and 11 per cent have been asked to take a photo or even to pose for a selfie while driving.

For one in 10, friends are baiting them to take their hands off the steering wheel when driving, while one in 20 were even asked if they would drive after consuming one or more alcoholic drinks.

While most young people drive sensibly, and have not indicated that they are giving in to this peer pressure, the data highlights the strain that many feel under when they get behind the wheel, and need for young people to support each other in the car.

The statistics also come as over half of young drivers say they are planning to head out for a road trip this summer. For many, this will be for their first extended time on the road with friends, as estimates show around a million 17 to 25-year-olds obtained their driving licence in the last year.

In response, Marmalade is encouraging young drivers and passengers to take collective responsibility for staying safe and avoiding tragic consequences on the road this summer. To help, Marmalade has launched a Young Driver’s Road Trippers guide, providing advice and tips to navigate peer pressure and enjoy a safe and fun, trip.

Crispin Moger, CEO of Marmalade, comments: “The summer is a great time for young drivers to get onto the road, off the beaten track and enjoy their freedom with friends.

“However, our study shows that some young drivers feel under increasing pressure from peers to take dangerous risks. With one in five young people already likely to have an accident within the first six months of passing their test, this is extremely worrying”.

Moger adds: “Marmalade is calling on young drivers and their passengers to share responsibility for keeping safe on the road this summer. From agreeing to put mobile phones away, to banning backseat driving, there are simple ways to support each other and avoid high-risk situations. Make sure your road trip is memorable for all the right reasons this summer”.

Fly Research conducted the survey in June 2019, and 1,000 17 to 25-year-olds participated