Dealing with Distractions from Backseat Drivers

Having someone in the vehicle to keep company is always welcomed especially in long trips. They can keep you awake with light conversation, change the radio station and manage the air conditioning. This quickly turns into a real sore point if your companion tries to drive the automobile from back or passenger seat. A backseat driver can quickly start getting on driver’s nerves and affect his/her performance behind the steering wheel.

What is a Backseat Driver and Reasons?

A backseat driver is a person who tries to control how a car is driven while he/she is sitting on the passenger or backseat. They keep warning and telling driver what to do. They ask to keep distance, slow down, check the exits and give directions. Sometimes they can take it too far as to criticize or comment on every action taken by the driver. Not many people like to have a running commentary about how is their driving and therefore it can be pretty unsettling to have such a person in a vehicle.

According to some psychotherapists the backseat drivers may be anxious about their safety. They may have seen some dangerous driving behaviors from the person on the steering wheel before or during this journey. Their nervousness can manifest in the form of criticism and attempt to control the vehicle somehow. Sometimes, this may just be a bad habit a person is keeping. Actually, a backseat driver may believe that he/she is helping.

Problems with Backseat Drivers

backseat driverMost drivers wouldn’t want a second person in the automobile who keeps criticizing how they drive and offer advises as to how to sit, steer, change gear and handle the road. These criticisms work when the driver recognizes the authority of the person offering them and willing to accept it as if it comes from an instructor. Otherwise, he/she will be annoyed, distracted and probably argue with the person interfering at the back or passenger seat.

This point has been proved by a study carried out by Carnegie Mellon University. The study carried out in virtual environment showed that drivers’ abilities have been negatively affected especially when it comes to curves. Also, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration talking with the driver while you are at the backseat is a distraction.

Distractions of any sort will reduce drivers’ road concentration and increase the chance of accidents. After several accidents you can forget about cheap auto insurance and prepare for doubling premiums. You can read here how much does insurance go up after an accident? Add the pain, suffering and wasted time dealing with the claims and you will see how the costs will rise. In addition, it can strain relations even between couples who are getting along fine otherwise.

The Worst Backseat Drivers

Another study carried out by asked drivers who they think is the worst backseat driver. There is not much surprise there that 40% of men said it was their wives and 34% of women said it was their husbands. The next group in the order was mothers. You can imagine the accusing looks and pointing fingers between spouses.

Top offences were; commenting on the speed with 47%, giving directions with 29%, talking too much with 19% and stepping on an imaginary brake with 15%. We have all seen these behaviors from our loved ones at some stage and know that it doesn’t really help our mood.

How to Handle a Backseat Driver

Signs of an anxious passenger are; keep telling to mind the truck, keep a wider distance and slow down. Losing the plot and arguing with them is not going to help anybody. How are you likely to persuade someone who probably believes to be of great help?

You need to do things that will take their mind off worries they have. You should tell or show them that you don’t need their help and keep them engaged. Here are a few things you could do to reduce the interference from your passengers.

  1. Look at your driving and consider that you made them uneasy. Stay calm and avoid things like aggressive overtaking or speeding. If you made them uncomfortable with your driving you cannot blame them.
  2. Thanks God for GPS. It eliminates many arguments about wrong directions and turns. You can also blame GPS when you took the wrong route instead of map reader. Even you know the way turn on the navigation to show them that you won’t be lost and you don’t need them watch the road for you.
  3. Turn on the radio to something they may like. This will take their mind off the road and they will probably leave you alone. Alternatively, you can make sure that they take their favorite gadget to be occupied during the journey.
  4. Ask the other passengers engage in conversation with the nervous Nellie. If they strike a conversation between themselves they may leave you alone.
  5. Gently tell them that they aren’t helping and it is safer if only one of you drive it. Remember not to push buttons because it can quickly backfire and you get blamed for all sorts of things.
  6. Handover your driving seat. It is more likely that your partner would be the one to complain about your driving and she/he would be insured to drive the car. Offering the option to drive may solve the problem as long as you don’t now become the backseat driver.
  7. Plan ahead the long journeys together. Needing a break or not knowing when they will have one can agitate passengers. If they know where they are, what they will see on the road and when they will stop for lunch can set their mind at ease. Taking short breaks can be distraction from boredom as well.

Interferences come in many forms and you need to find a way to deal with them. Arguing with passengers instead of paying attention to the road in front doesn’t help. It is best that you deal with possible backseat drivers well ahead of your trip. Furthermore, don’t get worked out is someone pass a comment on your driving.

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