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Stress and peer pressure


Everyone suffers from stress for various reasons and reacts to stress in different ways. What is perceived as a stressful situation for one person may feel completely normal for another.

When it comes to driving and stress, experience plays a big part. Most new and inexperienced drivers often experience stress because they are constantly faced with, for them, new situations and challenges.

New and inexperienced drivers are more easily stressed than more experienced drivers

To become a better driver you have to get to know yourself and understand what causes you stress, how you react to it and what you can do to minimise its effects.

Moderate stress levels can actually enhance performance. High stress levels, on the other hand, drastically lower performance. Only you know how you react to high stress, but the most common reactions are that you:

  • Start panicking.
  • Get tunnel vision.
  • Cannot think clearly.
  • Blackout.
  • Freeze and just give up.

Some freeze and just give up when exposed to high stress

Being rested and driving defensively allows you to minimize the general difficulty level of your driving and thus avoid difficult situations that cause stress.

If you are prone to stress, you may reduce it by always making sure you have a lot of time when you are driving somewhere. You can also lower the difficulty level of your driving through your choice of time, for example by avoiding rush hour traffic or driving in the dark.

In order to reduce the risk of high stress, it is also important that your car and its equipment are reliable and in good condition.

A long-term strategy for lowering your stress levels when driving is to practice the manoeuvres and exposing yourself to the situations that causes you stress. If, for example, parallel parking or driving in the dark always makes you very stressed, you can practice those particular things under controlled circumstances. Once you have mastered the manoeuvre or situation, you will probably not even understand how it once caused you so much stress.

In order to become a good driver, it is important to continue practicing on the things that you find difficult, even after you get your driver's licence

Peer pressure

Giving in to peer pressure means that we change our behaviour and act in a way that we would not have done if we were alone.

Although peer pressure is unfortunately usually negative, it can also be positive. It all depends on which people you are influenced by. Pay close attention to how you are affected by others.

Peer pressure is negative if a passenger persuades you to drive after drinking alcohol, encourages you to drive too fast or to take unnecessary and stupid risks. On the other hand, if a passenger instead persuades you to slow down and drive within the speed limit, it is something positive.

Do not let yourself be affected by negative peer pressure


Studies have shown that young, mostly male, but also female, drivers run a very high risk of being involved in a traffic accident when driving with young male passengers. A strong contributing factor to this is peer pressure.

But even if the passengers in a car incite the driver to drive in a way that leads to an accident, it is always the driver who bears the entire responsibility.

If you cause an accident, you as a driver always bear the full responsibility

Unlawful driving

A dangerous situation that can be caused by peer pressure is when one or more persons without a driver's licence ask a person with a driver's licence to test drive or borrow his or her car.

If you let a friend that you know does not have a licence drive your car you both risk penalties. Your friend is guilty of unlawful driving and you are guilty of permitting of unlawful driving.

Another dangerous situation that also can be caused by peer pressure is when a person with a driver's licence, and who has been drinking alcohol, incites a person without a driver's licence to drive to or from a party or similar.

Some are more easily affected

Everyone can fall for peer pressure, but people with low self-confidence are more easily affected than others. Instead of speaking up, such people do as they are told because they want to be accepted by the group. This may eventually cause them to stop trusting their own judgment, making their self-confidence even worse.

People with low self-confidence are more easily affected by peer pressure than others

In order to gain respect and acceptance in the group, you have to make your own decisions, take responsibility for the group's safety and dare to speak up for yourself.

Keep this in mind when you are a passenger as well, so that it is not you who incites a friend drive in a manner that he or she is not comfortable with. Also, do not hesitate to speak up if you feel insecure with the way someone is driving.