UK: Half of passengers are scared by their drivers (and they are most worried when partners are at the wheel)

02 Jan 2017

  • New Aviva Advert Features Former Formula One Driver David Coulthard
  • Safer Drivers Could Save Average Of £170 Using Free Aviva Drive App*

More than half of passengers have felt unsafe as a result of their drivers’ actions, research from Aviva reveals today.

A study of more than 2,000 adults found that 53% of passengers had felt unsafe while being driven, with younger passengers feeling most on edge. The proportion of panicky passengers rises to six out of 10 for those aged 16-34.

The research was carried out as part of the insurer’s ongoing mission to help make Britain’s roads safer. Aviva today unveils a new TV advert featuring former Formula One driver and road safety ambassador David Coulthard as a rogue taxi driver, shocking passengers with his poor driving habits.

The Aviva campaign encourages motorists to download the Aviva Drive app which monitors people’s driving behaviours and could save safer drivers an average of £170 off their Aviva car insurance.

Who’s the scariest driver?

The most likely culprits to make passengers nervous are spouses or partners, with 21% of anxious travellers pointing the finger at their other halves. Women are considerably more likely to complain about their partner (26%) than men (16%).

And in general, people are more likely to say they’ve been scared when being driven by male drivers than female motorists. Male friends are more likely to worry their passengers than female friends (19% vs 9%), and dad drivers are marginally more likely to make passengers nervous than mums (9% vs 8%).

Why so nervous?

‘Driving too fast’ was by far the most common reason passengers gave for feeling unsafe in a motor vehicle (61%), twice as likely as the second and third causes for concern – that the driver was driving aggressively (31%) or the motorist didn’t seem to be concentrating (30%) (see full list in notes to editors**).

However, it would appear that people didn’t always feel able to confront their driver when they felt unsafe. Of the passengers who felt uneasy on the move, more than a quarter (26%) didn’t tell their driver.

This was because more than a third (35%) didn’t want to upset their driver, 29% thought the motorist might think they were over-reacting, and 22% were relying on the driver to get them to their destination.

Mixed messages from motorists

When people did challenge their driver, responses from the motorist were mixed. The most common reaction from drivers was to say that there was nothing wrong with their driving (36%) and 28% told the passenger that they should stop over-reacting. One in four passengers (25%) were told to stop being back-seat drivers, while 17% said their driver just ignored them.

However, 25% said that their driver did drive more sensibly after they had confronted them and 22% said their ‘chauffeur’ had apologised. Worryingly though, nearly three quarters (72%) said they wouldn’t necessarily challenge their driver in the future if they felt unsafe.

Peter Markey, Brand and Marketing Comms Director for Aviva says: “We’ve been on a mission to help make Britain’s roads safer for some time now and this latest research backs up what we already know - that most of us think we’re good drivers, but others may not necessarily agree!

“If a passenger feels uncomfortable we’d encourage them to have a polite word with their driver, just so they’re aware. They could also suggest that the driver checks their driving style by using the Aviva Drive app, so they can get an independent opinion. Safer drivers can also save an average of £170 on their Aviva car insurance when they use the app so it’s well worth downloading and taking the Aviva safe driving challenge.”

Aviva’s latest TV advertisement with David Coulthard can be seen on social media from 31 December 2016 and on mainstream TV channels from 1 January 2017.

The Aviva Drive app uses smartphone technology that records the motorist’s driving style, based on accelerating, braking and cornering. Users of the Aviva Drive app will be given an individual score out of 10. Drivers may then be able to use their score to achieve discounts on their Aviva car insurance. Aviva data shows that safer drivers who score 7.1 and above save an average of £170 on their Aviva comprehensive car insurance - a discount achievable by 40% of them*.

Notes to editors:

Images and video footage from the advert are available.

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:
Aviva Press Office:  Sarah Poulter, 01904 452 828 / 07800 691569, 

Research was carried out in November 2016 by Censuswide research on behalf of Aviva. 2003 adults from across the UK were interviewed in an online poll.

*Discount on first car per direct Aviva comprehensive policy. Discount depends on score and premium (minimum £200). 40% of customers scoring 7.1+ saved £170 or more (1/1/16 – 30/9/16). Excludes optional extras. Compatible handset required.

**Reasons passengers gave for feeling unsafe in a motor vehicle were as follows:

  • Driver was driving too fast                                                         61%
  • Driver was driving aggressively                                                  31%
  • Driver didn’t seem to be concentrating                                       30%
  • Driver was fiddling with in-car tech, radio, sat-nav etc.                 17%
  • Driver was making a phone call (not hands-free)                         15%
  • Driver was texting                                                                      14%
  • The driver was nearly involved in a collision                                13%
  • I thought the driver might have taken drugs / alcohol                   12%
  • The driver was falling asleep at the wheel                                    6%
  • The driver was trying to do something else while driving              6%
  • The driver was actually involved in a collision                              6%

 About Aviva:

  • Aviva provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 33 million customers, across 16 markets worldwide
  • In the UK we are the leading insurer serving one in every four households and have strong businesses in selected markets in Europe, Asia and Canada. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE100 index.  
  • Aviva’s asset management business, Aviva Investors, provides asset management services to both Aviva and external clients, and currently manages over £319 billion in assets.
  • Aviva helps people save for the future and manage the risks of everyday life; we paid out £30.7 billion in benefits and claims in 2015.
  • By serving our customers well, we are building a business which is strong and sustainable, which our people are proud to work for, and which makes a positive contribution to society.
  • The Aviva media centre at includes company information, images, and a news release archive.
  • For an introduction to what we do and how we do it, please click here
  • For broadcast-standard video, please visit
  • Follow us on twitter:
  • Follow us on LinkedIn:
  • For the latest corporate films from around our business, subscribe to our YouTube channel:
  • Aviva has a Globelynx system for broadcast interviews. Please contact the Press Officer noted above if you would like to make a booking.