How Passengers Can Cause Car Accidents

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

When a negligent party causes a motor vehicle accident, typically, said party is a motorist. However, there are also instances in which the passengers of vehicles can cause accidents. Consider the following examples:


Safe driving requires focusing on the road. This can be difficult for a motorist to do if their passengers are distracting them.

Some passengers may distract a driver without intending to. For example, young children may not realize that they are creating an unsafe situation by making noise or moving around in their seats.

Older passengers should know that preventing a driver from focusing on their surroundings could increase the odds of a collision occurring. Unfortunately, for various reasons, ranging from intoxication to general carelessness, some passengers may not consider this when demanding the attention of a driver.

Motorists can address this issue in such ways as:

  • Pulling over and calming a child down before driving again
  • Pulling over and explaining to an older passenger their distracting behavior will not be tolerated
  • Not accepting passengers who have a history of engaging in distracting or disruptive behavior

Erratic Behavior

Some passengers behave erratically to such a degree that they don’t merely distract the person at the wheel. If they’re highly intoxicated or in a compromised emotional or mental state, they may physically interfere by grabbing the steering wheel, attempting to block a driver’s view, etc.

A driver cannot allow this behavior to continue. Again, if they have strong reason to believe a passenger will create an unsafe situation, depending on the circumstances, they may refuse to drive said passenger (as long as they know this passenger won’t attempt to drive themselves if they are declined a ride). If a passenger already in the vehicle is behaving erratically, a driver should pull over immediately.

They have various options to consider once they do so. In some cases, it may be necessary to call the police if a passenger is unwilling to calm down. Or, a driver may call a friend, family member, or someone else better-equipped to manage the behavior of a dangerous passenger.

Non-Physical Interference

A passenger can interfere with a driver in ways that, while not involving any physical interference, could nevertheless result in an accident.

Sometimes, this involves playing very dangerous “practical jokes” on a driver, such as loudly exclaiming there is a person or obstruction in the road when there isn’t actually one. This could cause a driver to swerve into traffic or off the road.

In other instances, even a well-meaning passenger could accidentally interfere. For example, if they believe a driver is about to miss an exit, they might loudly urge them to exit the highway, causing a driver to potentially change lanes unsafely.

When Passengers Cause Accidents, Victims Deserve Compensation

You can guard against being harmed in an accident resulting from a passenger’s negligence by managing the behavior of the passengers in your vehicle, pulling over when necessary, and making smart decisions about who to give rides to. However, you may still one day be hurt in a collision because the passenger of another vehicle was careless.

You may be eligible for compensation if this ever happens in California. For more information about your case, meet with a Camarillo car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of J. Jeffrey Herman. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at 805-983-2344.

The Law Offices of J. Jeffrey Herman has a focus on personal injury cases in other parts of California.

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