Half Of Passengers Frightened By Their Drivers

More than half of passengers have felt unsafe as a result of their drivers’ actions, according to research from Aviva.


A study of more than 2,000 adults found that 53% of passengers had felt unsafe while being driven, with younger passengers feeling most on edge. The proportion of panicky passengers rises to six out of 10 for those aged 16-34.

Road Safety

The research was carried out as part of the insurer’s ongoing mission to help make Britain’s roads safer. Aviva recently unveiled a TV advert featuring former Formula One driver David Coulthard as a rogue taxi driver, shocking passengers with his poor driving habits.

Scariest Drivers

The most likely culprits to make passengers nervous are spouses or partners, with 21% of anxious travellers pointing the finger at their other halves. Women are considerably more likely to complain about their partner (26%) than men (16%). And in general, people are more likely to say they’ve been scared when being driven by male drivers than female motorists. Male friends are more likely to worry their passengers than female friends (19% vs 9%), and dad drivers are marginally more likely to make passengers nervous than mums (9% vs 8%).

Frayed Nerves

‘Driving too fast’ was by far the most common reason passengers gave for feeling unsafe in a motor vehicle (61%), twice as likely as the second and third causes for concern – that the driver was driving aggressively (31%) or the motorist didn’t seem to be concentrating (30%). However, it would appear that people didn’t always feel able to confront their driver when they felt unsafe. Of the passengers who felt uneasy on the move, more than a quarter (26%) didn’t tell their driver. This was because more than a third (35%) didn’t want to upset their driver, 29% thought the motorist might think they were over-reacting, and 22% were relying on the driver to get them to their destination.

Mixed Messages

When people did challenge their driver, responses from the motorist were mixed. The most common reaction from drivers was to say that there was nothing wrong with their driving (36%) and 28% told the passenger that they should stop over-reacting. One in four passengers (25%) were told to stop being back-seat drivers, while 17% said their driver just ignored them. However, 25% said that their driver did drive more sensibly after they had confronted them and 22% said their ‘chauffeur’ had apologised. Worryingly though, nearly three quarters (72%) said they wouldn’t necessarily challenge their driver in the future if they felt unsafe.


Aviva’s Peter Markey says: “We’ve been on a mission to help make Britain’s roads safer for some time now and this latest research backs up what we already know – that most of us think we’re good drivers, but others may not necessarily agree. If a passenger feels uncomfortable we’d encourage them to have a polite word with their driver, just so they’re aware.”