Motorsport has its inherent risks. It is our opinion that these risks more than double when a passenger is in the vehicle. Therefore, taking passengers is considered a privilege … not an entitlement or a right.
Most people understand that risk doubles when a second person is in the vehicle … that’s just simple math. But you may be asking yourself why we believe it MORE than doubles. Our experience is that a passenger in the car often distracts the driver. The driver can be distracted in several ways: by their own desire to explain what is happening as they drive; by their desire to drive a little closer to their limits to demonstrate talent; by the presence of someone recording video; and sometimes even by the unexpected actions of the passenger (such as reaching for one of the controls, or becoming carsick). And several of these factors may be present simultaneously.
In motorsport, a passenger is referred to as an “innocent”. This is because the passenger cannot know what risk the driver will expose them to, and has no control over that risk once on track. The passenger has neither a brake pedal nor a steering wheel. The driver must therefore choose to drive at an intensity level that mitigates potential risk to their innocent passenger.
Age and experience are also factors. We find less experienced and less mature drivers are the most likely to underestimate risk, which means they are more likely to expose their passengers to an unnecessary level of risk.
How Does A Driver Mitigate The Risk to Their Passenger?
The driver must choose to remain 100% in control of the vehicle at all times. No showing off. No trying a different line. No tailgating. No ‘Hail Mary’ passes. No timed lapping (that includes your own timing devices). And no testing the limits of your driving skills or your vehicle.
The driver’s primary duty is to protect their passenger. Protecting your passenger means choosing to drive at a lower intensity level. Making this choice leaves a much greater margin for recovery should you or another driver make an error.
There are no excuses for failing to put a passenger’s safety first. Not unexpected distractions, nor adverse track conditions, nor time constraints, nor the actions of other drivers. A passenger’s safety is entirely the driver’s responsibility, and putting the passenger first involves making a conscious choice.
Who May Take A Passenger?
Drivers who wish to become authorized to take passengers must demonstrate the following BEFORE being permitted to take a passenger:
- intimate knowledge of the track they are driving,
- ability to drive safely at track speeds, within their limits and the limits of their vehicle,
- ability to remain focussed on their driving even in the event a passenger distracts them, and
- maturity necessary to put the passenger’s safety ahead of all other considerations.
The only way we can reasonably verify the above is by observing a driver over time. Our minimum requirement is four (4) previous Track Junkies track days WITHOUT INCIDENT (“incident” includes anything considered adverse, be it contact, going off track, or requiring discipline). This is a minimum … if there are indications a driver may not be a good candidate for taking passengers, please remember our highest duty is to protect an innocent passenger from harm.
In addition to observation, passengers MUST be provided the same level of safety equipment as the driver. This includes HANS and 5- or 6-point restraints if the driver is using same. Roll bars and cages (if equipped) MUST protect the passenger and driver equally.
A driver who has an incident while a passenger is in the car will be considered to have demonstrated they are not choosing to put their passenger’s safety first, and will not be permitted to take passengers.
How Will You Know Whether I’m Incident Free?
Our trackside safety marshals are our eyes and ears. They can see 100% of the track and are in radio contact at all times. After each event, we log all the incidents that were reported. So we’re just going to check your log.
If you don’t understand why we are concerned with the above, you are probably not a good candidate to take passengers. Please contact us to discuss.