Kent's Young Passengers to Speak Up

22 March 2011, 12:11 | Updated: 24 March 2011, 09:16

Kent Highways Services Road Safety team are starting a new campaign. It's to raise awareness of passengers in cars to find their voice and ‘Speak Up’ if the driver is driving recklessly or without paying proper attention to the road.



Young people are especially at risk of death and injury on the road. In the last three years over 229 young people aged 17 - 24 were killed or seriously injured in Kent.

Kent's Road Saftey Team say it’s difficult to directly influence the behaviour of young drivers, so this campaign seeks to remind passengers of the risks others take on their behalf and asks the direct question ‘are you happy to entrust your safety with this driver?’
The new 3 minute film ‘Speak Up’ was specially commissioned to illustrate some of the issues faced by passengers.

Click Here to Watch the Video
Casualty figures show that 17 to 24 year old car passengers make up 36% of the total number of all car passenger casualties. The reason for this increased risk is that many young passengers are driven by young drivers. Young drivers are vulnerable to peer pressure and to taking risks, which often leads to them driving too quickly, over-estimating their driving ability and often being tempted to use their mobile phones when driving. Young drivers often consider themselves as invincible, meaning they take a range of unnecessary risks without appreciating the danger they place themselves and their passengers in. This leads to an increased likelihood of being involved in a road crash, tragically often leading to them cutting short lives, sometimes their own or their passengers, or other road users.

 Many car occupant victims are the close friend of the driver that crashes. They may drive themselves or at least they will have a good appreciation for what is safe and what is risky driving behaviour. However, for whatever reason they do not manage to ask the driver to drive sensibly, or even stop and let them out because they feel unsafe.

Steve Horton, KHS Road Safety Team Leader said:

 “Of course it’s hard to speak out when it’s someone close to you that’s driving poorly, and it’s particularly difficult for young people who may feel it could make them look stupid or ‘wimpy’; but if you don’t, then who will?”
“The one thing I would encourage all passengers, whatever their age, to do when they get into a car is to look closely at the driver and ask themselves ‘do I want to give my safety to you?’, because once that door slams, that is what you are doing. You are entrusting your safety totally to the driver, you are in their control. You rely on their choice of how they control that tonne-and-a-half of metal and unless you speak up they are unlikely to change their behaviour.”
Steve also went on to say “If you find it just too difficult to let the driver know you don’t like the way they are behaving, maybe its time to make an excuse and get out. One sure way to get their attention could be to say you’re going to be sick in their car and you need to get out; perhaps its because of what you ate the night before, or the hangover you have, or maybe the motion sickness caused by the driving. Another way could be to say you need to make a call but have to speak privately or in a quiet place. Whatever the reason you can find, the walk back or bus fare home would be small price to pay for getting you out of that bad situation.”
The ‘Speak Up’ campaign is designed to show passengers, especially young people, that it is ok to speak up if they feel unsafe in a car. We know peer pressure and over confidence can lead to drivers often behaving in a way they wouldn’t normally and it can be difficult for passengers to find the strength to either criticise the driver or get them to stop. But the bottom line is most drivers would be horrified if they really knew what their passengers thought of them when they behaved inappropriately on the road.
Steve further commented “I also know that there are times when the driver needs to ‘speak up’ if they are being pressured into driving erratically by their passengers. All car occupants have a role in ensuring they make their journey safely; one slip, one error or one too many stupid actions by a driver could prove fatal for the passenger.”