Motorists carrying passengers are half as likely to be involved in an accident than those driving solo, the research by Privilege Insurance reveals. One in 10 drivers say they have been involved in an accident when driving alone, compared to just one in 20 who were driving with a passenger.
And it is not just accidents that are reduced by driving with a passenger. Four out of 10 motorists (39%) have lost concentration while driving, but only two in ten (22%) have done so when driving with a passenger. One in five drivers have been pulled over by the police when driving alone due to the poor quality of their driving, compared to just nine per cent who have been pulled over when driving with someone else in the car.
And as drivers realise the safety benefits of sharing car journeys, they are turning to the 'car pool' concept favoured in the US cousins, 15m of whom car pool every day.
More than one in 20 British motorists (6%) currently have a car pool arrangement in place for their drive to work, according to Privilege's findings. By the end of the 2006, over four million drivers expect to be sharing car journeys on a regular basis (12%), and by 2010 this will increase to nearer six million (17%).
However, one in five drivers (21%) believe they would be more likely to car pool if special lanes were introduced. Just under half (48%) of all drivers surveyed by Privilege support the introduction of car pool lanes on key commuter routes. And among those who support such plans, three quarters (76%) would like to see car pool lanes combined with existing or new bus lanes.
Philip Igoe, director of Car Plus, a national car sharing charity, said: 'The evidence from 'high occupancy vehicle' lanes in Leeds, which gives priority to the majority of commuters who share journeys in cars or buses, is that journey times have reduced both for commuters in the HOV lane and also for those driving solo.
'Given the many benefits of car sharing, drivers should perhaps be asking themselves; 'do we really need to drive alone?'