Passengers & your duty of care

30 Sep 2014

This article was published on Cornish Mutual's guest blog as part of their first Young Driver Awareness Week, taking place between Monday 29th September – Friday 3rd October 2014.  As well as special guest blogs, it features videos highlighting the biggest dangers that young drivers face.  To get involved please follow #YoungDriverAwarenessWeek.

The statistics for young drivers and road traffic accidents do not make good reading.  Research on the subject includes the following stark findings:

  •  Road crashes are the biggest single killer of young people in the UK and worldwide
  •  One in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test
  •  Young male drivers have much higher crash rates than young female drivers
  •  Young male drivers aged 17-20 are seven times more at risk than all male drivers

In this context it is perhaps even more important to understand your legal obligations as a young driver.  Although the risk of having an accident may be higher for some than others, as a matter of law all road users owe the same duty of care.

When you deal with legal cases like this all the time you begin to notice patterns arising. I recently dealt with a case in which a young driver had an accident caused by excessive speed which led him to lose control and hit a wall.  At the time the driver was carrying 4 passengers, all of whom were injured.   As a driver your duty of care not only extends to other road users but also to the safety of your own passengers.

These cases are a real concern because the carriage of multiple passengers by young drivers sometimes seems to lead to peer pressure to drive faster or more recklessly.  In addition of course, if there is an accident, more people are likely to be affected. 

Some organisations, such as The Association of British Insurers, are lobbying for legal changes to ban young drivers from carrying passengers at all. That has not happened so far.  Until it does, young drivers must remember the duty of care that they owe to their passengers and to other road users.