Co-driving (Complete)

Waikato University’s Transport Research Group (TRG), part of their School of Psychology, have looked into how passengers interact with drivers to assist, or otherwise influence, the driver’s decision-making.

Research Providers

  • Professor Samuel G Charlton - Waikato University
  • Professor Nicola Starkey - Waikato University

Project Steering Group

  • Simon Douglas - AA Research Foundation Manager
  • Matthew Stone – Ministry of Transport
  • Jim Harland – NZ Transport Agency
  • Emily Reeves – AA Driving School
  • Toni Barlow – AA Motoring Affairs


The project involved a comprehensive, descriptive account of driving-related conversations during an everyday drive.

The aim was to advance our understanding of how carrying passengers can effect crash risk.

In particular the findings provide insight into how we can improve the support passengers can provide to drivers, including the focus of advertising or educational campaigns targeted at improving driver safety.

Research Method

The research featured a mix of research methods including surveys, focus groups, recordings of on-road driving, and driving simulation. This mixed-method approach has been successful in previous research undertaken for the AARF.

Study 1 - Describing Kiwi drivers’ current experiences of co-driving

The first study assessed the extent to which the NZ driving public engages in a range of co-driving practices currently.

This research used a combination of on-line survey and focus group techniques.

The goal was to develop an initial understanding of the range of co-driving activities practiced by drivers and their passengers, who engages in these activities, when they practice them, which passenger activities are viewed as helpful by drivers, and the passenger attributes or activities that are viewed as unhelpful or distracting.

Study 2 - Exploring co-driving conversations during an everyday journey

In conjunction with the first study, TRG conducted an on-road descriptive study, using in-car cameras to record a smaller sample of drivers and passengers, to observe driver-passenger interactions during a short journey. The participants were representative of typical driver-passenger pairs who travel together often.

Research Reports

Article: Co-driving - Passenger actions and distractions (Elsevier, Volume 144, September 2020, 105624)

Presentation: Exploring the role of passengers for safer driving (December 2019)

Research Summary

Overview in AA Directions magazine, March 2020

Media Release

Passengers can play their part in safe holiday driving (23 December 2019)

Page last updated: June 2020

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