Conference Proceeding

The Influence of Passengers on Driving in Young Drivers with Varying Levels of Experience

  • Ryan Toxopeus (University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada)
  • Robert Ramkhalawansingh (University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada)
  • Lana Trick (University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada)


Young drivers are at disproportionate risk of collision. It is unclear whether it is age or lack of driving experience that is the problem because age and experience are confounded in most studies (experienced drivers are typically much older). This study focused on drivers who were about the same age: all within the critical first years of skill development. We compared drivers just starting to drive (learner’s license) with those with a full license. Young drivers are especially at risk when driving with passengers. Consequently, we were interested in how the ability to drive with passengers changes in these first years. Driving performance was measured in a driving simulator when the passenger was absent (Absent condition), and when there was a passenger who was either asking the driver questions or was silent (Talking and Silent conditions). As predicted, the experienced young drivers had lower hazard response times and fewer collisions. Similarly, as predicted, performance was worse in the Talking condition, insofar as more drivers missed their turnoff in the way-finding task (where they were required to arrive at a certain destination using signs and landmarks). However, there were also interactive effects of experience and condition. In-vehicle conversation had an especially negative effect on the least experienced drivers, producing more collisions. Conversely, the more experienced young drivers sped up when they were driving with a passenger who talked with them. There was little difference between Silent and Absent conditions for all measures. This suggests in-vehicle conversation may be the critical factor.

How to Cite:

Toxopeus, R. & Ramkhalawansingh, R. & Trick, L., (2013) “The Influence of Passengers on Driving in Young Drivers with Varying Levels of Experience”, Driving Assessment Conference 7(2013), 481-487. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2013 the author(s)

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Published on
20 Jun 2013
Peer Reviewed