Saturday, May 9, 2009

Peer Pressure and Its Affects on Driving Behaviour at Different Ages

Observation is such a fun activity and we can do it anytime. I find fleeting gazes through my rear vision mirror, when driving, quite a revealing pastime. On one particular occasion recently, a woman of mature years, probably age 40 or so, had been following me for several kilometres and I’d noticed her remarkably safe driving behaviour; she retained a safe following distance to my vehicle and stuck rigidly to the posted speed limit, even when going through a reduced speed zone for road works.

Then I noticed she had a female passenger in the car with her and she seemed to be in a passively-active conversation with this lady as she drove. I wondered if perhaps the peer pressure of another mature adult in the car was influencing her driving behaviour positively.

In my earlier research, I learned that peer pressure can have a marked negative effect on the driving behaviour of young male drivers:

“Road crash data suggests that the risk of a crash increases with ‘each additional member of their peer group as a passenger.’[1] This means that parents should try and set a limit on their teens driving with only one or two peers in the car. Perhaps four or five teens in one car is asking for trouble?”[2]


“As far as driving is concerned, it is important to discourage young drivers from driving with more than one or two peers in the car at a time. With every extra adolescent passenger the risk of a crash is increased. Young male drivers’ risks for crashing whilst taking sweeping bends are higher than all other age and gender groups. Parents are critical role models for their teenagers in regard to driving behaviour-particularly the same-gender parent. If a father behaves inappropriately on the road, the teen son is likely to repeat it. It is the same for mothers and daughters.”[3]

My conclusions in considering both examples are that peer pressure of passengers in cars does play quite a marked role in the moral performance of motor vehicle drivers, but to opposite extremes. These results reinforce what is perceived to be the strong desire of each group (mature and young): to find acceptance amongst, and achieve the respect of, their peer group.

Perhaps this also reinforces the value of car-pooling for the mature-driver demographic in delivering safer outcomes on the roads for all.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] Ian Glendon, “Brain development during adolescence: some implications for risk-taking and injury liability,” in Journal of Occupational Health and Safety: Australia and New Zealand, 2006, 22(2): p. 144.
[2] Steve Wickham, Risk In Teenagers - Why Do They Take Work, Driving And Life Risks? Explanations Here. (January 23, 2008). Retrieved May 7, 2009, from,-Driving-And-Life-Risks?--Explanations-Here&id=944972
[3] Wickham, Ibid.

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