If you've got a car and your friends don't, you'll probably end up driving them around a lot. As a driver, you have a lot of responsibility, not just to your passengers but to other road users and pedestrians. However, passengers can be a distraction, so you've got to focus on the road rather than on them. These actions can be dangerous whether you're driving friends around, or on your own …
Play it safe, and don't drink at all when you're driving. Your friends may encourage you, claiming that one or two won't hurt. But it's never worth taking the risk; people react differently to alcohol, and you may be over the limit when you think you're fine. Drinking could cost you your licence, and even your job - and then there's the harm you could cause to others …
2. Using Your Phone
If your phone rings, ignore it, or get someone else to answer it. It doesn't matter if you're on a quiet road. Paying attention to your phone means you're not paying attention to the most important thing: staying safe. Don't text, look at messages or answer calls. Nothing is so important that it cannot wait. If you must take a call, pull over.
On a long journey, people can get tired and grouchy. But don't argue with your passengers. If they get cross, tell them to cut it out and stop distracting you. It's in their own interests, after all!
4. Getting Distracted
It doesn't matter how familiar you are with the route; even if you've driven it hundreds of times, you can't account for variables such as other drivers or children running into the road. Don't get distracted by unimportant things; keep an eye on what's going on, but don't look at billboards or admire the view.
5. Eating & Drinking
Need a snack to keep you going during the drive? It's important not to get light-headed during a long drive, but always pull over to eat or drink. Even if your front-seat passenger feeds you, you're going to be distracted - especially if you drop a drink in your lap.
6. Changing the Music or Looking at the Map
Leave changing the music up to your passenger. Too many accidents have been caused by the driver fiddling with a CD or radio station, and it's just not important enough to take any risks. As for map reading, your passengers can take charge of that as well. If they're useless at giving directions, work out your route before you set off and stop if you need to check the map again.
7. Looking at Your Friends While Talking to Them
If you can chat while driving, and still give the road your full concentration, fine. But don't let the conversation distract you from your driving. And don't look at your friends while talking to them. It may be automatic to look at people when you're talking to them, but you really need to resist taking your eyes off the road.
Even on the shortest journey you should never be complacent. Most car accidents happen close to home, so presumably on roads that the driver knows very well. Make sure you get you and your passengers home safely by always being alert and never driving when tired. Are you always the designated driver for your friends?