Are You a Backseat Driver?

backseat driver

Driving can be a stressful task. I think I’m a pretty good driver, but Susan and our kids would definitely challenge that. The car commercials want us to expect that every ride in our slick vehicle will be pure joy, sunshine, and clear roads. But we know better…it’s hard. Running late.  Heavy traffic. Bad weather. Distractions inside and outside the car. These are all things that make driving draining.

But sometimes we can make things even worse–when we are NOT the driver. It’s human nature to want everyone to drive like we do, but it’s also a reality that everyone drives differently. This isn’t just a husband-wife issue either. It doesn’t matter the gender of the driver.

So here are some things that we all need to stop doing as passengers when either our spouse or one of our kids is driving:

1. Don’t nag the driver about their driving habits.

We all have bad habits, but being constantly reminded of them doesn’t tend to remove them. Rule of thumb: Bite your tongue, unless the situation involves a genuine safety hazard.

2. Don’t nag the driver about directions or the best route to take.

If the driver wants help figuring out the best way to get from A to B, by all means, help them. But there are usually several different ways to arrive somewhere. Be clear before departing if the driver wants help navigating. If not, try to relax and let them do it their way.

3. Don’t continue arguments that started before the drive.

This is bad for a couple of reasons. First, the driver will not be focused on driving conditions and hazards if they are stressed. Second, when you can’t face each other, look into each other’s eyes, and listen carefully, the communication suffers and things tend to be left unresolved anyway. Do your best to put such conversations on hold until a better time.

4. Don’t overreact to simple mistakes every driver makes.

Some grace is required, even if you feel vulnerable in the car. Even seasoned, safe drivers sometimes drift into another lane briefly, miss a Stop sign, go over the speed limit, or brake hard because they waited too long to slow down. Don’t make those mistakes worse by overreacting.

5. Don’t act like the car is more important than the family member.

If someone in your family is involved in a fender bender, be sure the first question you ask is, “Are you okay?” before you ask, “Is the car okay?” When you treat the car like it’s more important than your family member, you convey a lot more than just the desire to protect your investment.

6. Don’t treat the driver like a captive audience to bring up whatever is on your mind.

You might be tempted to solve some problems or pontificate on the great issues of the day. But that is likely to simply raise the stress level of the car. Try asking the driver first if they mind if you discuss that issue.

7. Don’t phantom drive or unleash exaggerated noises.

Only special driving instructor cars are equipped with pedals on both sides of the car. If you are suddenly scared in a situation, avoid slamming on invisible brake pedals. Remember- loud gasps, shrieks, and stomps are more likely to startle the driver, not help.

What are some things you should stop doing when your spouse or child is driving? Share them in the comments below!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.