Backseat drivers can be extremely annoying for a driver. There is nothing worse than driving along peacefully, only to get distracted by your passenger telling you to ‘slow down!’ or asking ‘are we going the right way?’
As well as being infuriating, being handed unwanted advice and criticism can make the driver lose confidence in their abilities and actually increase the chances of an accident happening.
Whilst it’s nerve wracking being in a situation where you’re not in control and having to put your trust in someone else, being a backseat driver can be extremely dangerous and off-putting.
Luckily, experts at Lotus Car Rental have shared their top tips on how to avoid being a backseat driver and how to stay safe whilst on the road.
1. Distractions, distractions, distractions
Being the passenger rather than the driver can be daunting for a lot of people. Feeling the need to tell the driver what you would do, when to slow down and when to watch out is a natural human instinct. But, you should be careful you’re not undermining the driver and making them feel as though you don’t have faith in their abilities.
This can lead to them feeling more pressure when driving – which could put you more at risk of danger.
One of the best ways to avoid being a backseat driver is to distract yourself so you don’t feel the need to offer your advice.
Bring a magazine, book or newspaper with you so that you’re not tempted to intensely watch the road. If you’re distracted you won’t notice if the driver does something that you wouldn’t have done. Music is also a good way of taking your mind off the driving, whilst also being known to soothe nerves and ease tension.
Make sure you ask the driver before the journey if they’re comfortable with having music on, because fiddling with the radio next to the driver can become distracting and irritating.
2. Watch out for your physical and verbal patterns
It’s a normal human instinct to quickly reach out for the armrest if the driver takes a sharp turn, but be cautious you’re not putting the driver off.
It’s not just verbal comments that can distract the driver, but also our physical actions that can lead to the driver feeling uncomfortable.
If the driver can see you squeezing your eyes shut or grabbing onto the door handle for dear life, it can put the driver on edge because they’re going to feel as though you don’t trust that they can get you from A to B safely.
As well as physical cues, you should also avoid making any verbal comments. Making comments that undermine the driver such as asking, ‘Did you see that car?’ or questioning, ‘Were you going to slow down?’ could impact the drivers performance. It can make them feel more self-conscious about their driving, leading to decreased focus and confidence.
Likewise, when anxiety takes over, we may find ourselves unable to control our verbal reactions. However, sudden outbursts of screaming or shouting can startle the driver, posing a significant safety risk. As such, it’s best to be mindful of your physical and verbal actions when in the passenger seat.
3. Finding the right time
You might find yourself needing to speak to the driver if you’re genuinely concerned about your safety, but you may be unsure on how to approach the topic.
Whilst it’s necessary to voice legitimate concerns, It’s important to find the right moment to bring these issues up. You should avoid criticising the driver or starting an argument whilst driving, as this could be dangerous and off putting.
If the driver is speeding, or texting whilst driving and it’s making you anxious, rather than offending the driver or speaking to them in an accusatory manner, it’s important to soften the edges of your approach.
As such, your relationship with the driver is likely to be better if you go about the situation in a calmer manner.
4. Time limit!
Try setting a mental challenge by setting a time limit during which you refrain from offering advice or sharing your opinions.
Think about how you would feel if the roles were reversed, and you had someone constantly pointing out your mistakes. Instead, engage in conversations that are unrelated to driving which could help relax yourself and the driver.
5. Plan as much as you can
Change can be anxiety-inducing for some people, especially if something doesn’t work out the way you had planned it to.
Prior to setting off on a journey, it’s good practice to discuss the route with the driver, including planned stops along the way.
By having this conversation beforehand, you can ensure that all details are clear and agreed upon, which will help avoid arguments on the road.
6. Remember the driver is seeing the same as you
At times, our emotions can get the best of us, especially in the midst of a traffic jam or in a stressful situation. You might find yourself wanting to express frustration, complain about the delay and worry about whether you’re going to get to your destination on time.
However, it’s important to remember, the driver is likely to be experiencing the same emotions- if not worse!
Rather than adding to their frustration, try changing the topic or engaging in a light conversation that will also take their mind off the traffic jam.