OMAHA, Nebraska. Most of us can admit that we’ve done this one. You and your friend are heading to a new location, but you don’t know the way. Your friend knows how to get there. Instead of plugging the address in your GPS, your friend tells you not to worry. “Follow me,” she says. You follow her as you drive to your destination. Most of us have an intuitive sense that doing this is unsafe, but until recently there had been no research to back it up. Yet, recent research indicates that the process of trying to follow your friend without losing them can be dangerous.
Time magazine reported on research that found that drivers who were following another driver to a destination were more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviors. Drivers were more likely to drive faster, change lanes more quickly, and make faster turns. In cities, this can be incredibly dangerous, especially if pedestrians are in crosswalks. The researchers even found that drivers were willing to cut off pedestrians if it meant they would not lose track of their friend. Some drivers were willing to run lights and stop signs just to keep up. In some cases, drivers also tailgated their friend, creating a greater risk for rear-end collisions.
Why were drivers more dangerous? Simple. They didn’t want to get lost. If the only way they knew how to get to the destination was to stay behind the car, they were more likely to engage in risky behaviors to not lose the other driver.
So, what can you do if you find yourself heading to a new and unknown destination? First of all, just use your phone. Tell your friend to share the address, plug it into your GPS, and make your way there at your own pace. If your friend doesn’t know the address, but does know the way, it might be wise to wait until your friend makes it to the destination where he or she can drop a pin.
Finally, if you absolutely choose to follow a friend, the friend can keep you both safe by driving more slowly and waiting for you if you are stuck at a red light or stop sign. When drivers know their friend is looking out for them, they may be more likely to drive cautiously and safely.
Do people really get hurt in accidents while following friends? According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, a driver was seriously hurt while following another driver.
Rensch & Rensch Law are personal injury lawyers in Omaha, Nebraska who see how driver error, negligence, and distracted driving results in serious injuries every year. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, you may be entitled to seek damages to cover your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, you may only have a limited amount of time to do so. Visit our firm website at https://www.renschandrensch.com/ to learn more about your options. Finally, be safe. Use a GPS. Or better yet, plan your route before you turn on your car.