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Driving tips and other life stuff

8 things to remember when you’re the designated driver

First: you're a saint. Being the designated driver is a big deal and you deserve 1000 Mate Points - which, as you know, are redeemable at all good pubs on nights when you're not driving.

But it's also a big responsibility. You're in charge of your friends' safety, at a time when they may not be in their most safety-conscious state. So, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Never, ever drink

    Harsh but fair: one drink can lead to another and before you know it, 4 people are stranded. Or worse, trying to convince you that you're OK to drive.

    It's always important to be safely under the legal drive limit, but when you're responsible for your friends' lives as well as your own?

    Imagine having to tell 4 mothers that you're the reason their son or daughter is in hospital.

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  2. Decide the guest list in advance

    You don't want a fight on your hands as home time comes around. The only fair way to decide is on a first-come, first-serve basis and that means before you go out.

    Piling in more people than there are seatbelts is a big no-no. Not only is it very dangerous and distracting; you are also likely to be stopped by police with a car full of drunk people. And that can take a while to sort out.

  3. Set some ground rules

  4. Yeah, drunk people aren't the easiest to reason with. But if you stick to the same rules every time you volunteer to drive, hopefully a few will stick in their heads.

    Take your pick:

    • Seatbelts. ALWAYS.
    • Upfront payment of a couple of quid
    • No music or driver's choice
    • There is no such thing as calling shot gun
    • No snogging
    • No fighting
    • No food stops
    • 1 drop-off point
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  5. Prepare for battle

    I'm sure your friends are lovely but no one is at their best after a few rounds of Jagerbombs.

    The chances of fighting, crying and sicking are greatly increased at this point so be prepared:

    • Arrange a meeting point and then move swiftly to the car as a group
    • Don't get involved in disagreements or tantrums: if they can't behave, they can get a cab
    • Keep plastic bags and water in the car for anyone feeling queasy
    How's worse - the drunk mate, the sleeping mate or the mate who just won't shut up? Check out our least favourite passengers.
  6. Choose your nights wisely

    While volunteering to drive is a very noble thing - do you really want to? For important occasions like results day or Christmas,
    the risk of you feeling left out and having 'just one drink' is much higher.

    So why put yourself in that position? Club together with your mates and book a big taxi. Most companies have 8 seaters or even bigger, and between that many people it's actually an affordable way to get home.

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  7. Take your fun where you can get it

    Being the only person not drinking can be a bit annoying. But if you look at this a different way, there are a lot of perks:

    • Your mates will buy you food because they LOVE you, no really man, honestly
    • Any joke you tell will be hilarious because the average IQ has dropped several points
    • Out of the driving seat, your phone is your friend - capture the beautiful (embarrassing) moments for blackmail
    • Being the most attractive member of your group is guaranteed by about 10pm
  8. Work out a rota

    If you go out with the same group of friends every Friday night, put the weeks or events into a hat each month and draw lots.

    It's 100% fair, and anyone that doesn't drive can pay their way. Just be prepared for a bit of healthy debate over the scheduling.

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  9. Don't take any nonsense

    Your car, your licence: your rules. Be sure to keep a cab number handy for anyone who can't quite grasp that. One less person to take home next time!

Think you know bad passengers? See if yours make the list of the WORST people to have in your car.


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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 .