Why You Really Shouldn’t Follow a Friend in Your Car

2 minute read

It happens all the time: You and your friend are both going to the same place, and so, to avoid getting lost, you follow her in your car. But a recent study found that the effort of keeping your friend’s car in sight may be risky.

The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology in May, found that drivers who follow another car to the same destination are more likely to drive dangerously. In an experiment that included 16 students from Arizona State University, participants were asked to do a driving simulation in an invented city. First they were asked to drive wherever they wanted within the city, and then they were asked to drive while following a car in front of them.

Overall, according to the study, drivers engaged in more risky behaviors on the road when asked to “follow a friend.” The study found that drivers following the lead car drove faster, made turns at more erratic speeds and changed lanes quicker. Drivers were also more likely to cut in front of pedestrians while following a friend.

The study’s authors at Arizona State University believe the participants drove more dangerously because they were afraid of getting lost, a common fear among drivers, according to the study. To counter this, the authors suggested that lead drivers reduce their speed and wait for the second driver before making turns or changing lanes.


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Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com