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Classic British politeness is putting passengers at risk

It's no secret that we Brits are an awkward bunch.

Most of us would rather eat our own hands than ask someone to move their bag on the train so we can sit down. We apologise to people who bump into us. I've gone miles out of my way to avoid having to walk next to someone I've just given directions to.

Just typing this stuff is making me cringe. So our latest survey findings will come as no surprise: a lot of us would rather put ourselves in danger than tell a driver to knock off the speeding.

51% of us have been in the car with someone speeding - but many wouldn't say anything

36% of passengers wouldn't ask a driver to slow down if they were speeding. 28% of those don't want to be rude and 12% are just too embarrassed.

Although our awkwardness is a great source of humour for the rest of the world, this reluctance to offend people who are putting us in danger is scary.

Getting into a car with someone over the limit or feeling too embarrassed to tell your friend they're driving too fast can kill you.

The good thing is that 63% of young drivers actually would slow down if their passenger asked them to - compared with just 31% of older drivers, who they believe they are more experienced on the road.

So, this isn't a message just for young people: even people who have been driving for years - perhaps especially them - need to listen when someone is worried by their driving.

Reasons people won't ask a driver to slow down
“Only 9% of the people we surveyed said they speed because they enjoy it – everything else is down to making a bad decision because of being unprepared or under pressure, both of which can lead to disaster. You should only get behind the wheel if you’re calm, focused and prepared for the journey.”

Richard King
ingenie CEO

We're in charge of how other people's decisions affect us

If you feel unsafe, say something. 61% of the people we asked said they'd change how they were driving immediately because they want their passenger to feel safe.

And if you're hanging out with the kind of person who would speed up just to prove a point (2%), ask yourself why. That's not a friend.

What to do if you feel unsafe as a passenger:

  1. Ask the driver if they'd mind easing up a tad (you could even say you don't feel great if you think that'll soften what you're saying)
  2. Tell the driver you feel unsafe because of how they're driving
  3. Say you want to get out because you don't feel safe and call a cab or your parents
  4. Call the police - your safety is what matters and if they won't let you out, that's illegal

It gets a bit extreme towards the end there, sure. But it could literally be a life-or-death situation. I know my parents would rather I called from 50 miles away at 3am than sat in a car, terrified, as someone drove dangerously or over the limit.

Richard King, ingenie CEO:

“These survey results show we need to arm young passengers with the confidence to speak up when someone is driving dangerously, but we also need to listen when they comment on our driving. How we as parents drive has a huge influence on our children’s future attitude to road safety.

“My son, who's not at driving age yet, was recently driven home by his best friend's big brother. On the way back, he decided to show off and speed aggressively. Although my son told me he was scared, he didn't feel he could ask an 18-year-old to stop. Silence kills in this situation – so let's talk.”

Honor Clement-Hayes

By Honor Clement-Hayes

Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .