Back Off Backseat Drivers!

Next time you want to instruct your driver, think twice…

If you’ve ever had a passenger slamming on imaginary brakes or giving you advice on how to parallel park, you know how irritating a back-seat driver can be. But back-seat driving isn’t only annoying – it can also be dangerous because it’s distracting, says Gary Ronald of the Automobile Association of South Africa.

Ensure you don’t commit these back-seat driving offences:

Look out…

If you’re a cautious passenger, you might worry that the driver hasn’t noticed potential dangers. ‘Warning the driver about oncoming traffic will probably just annoy them and possibly make them aggressive towards other drivers,’ says Ronald.

Changing tracks

You’re bored with Rihanna – time to change the channel and see what else is playing. Oops, don’t like that either. Perhaps there’s something better on another station…Ronald warns that what might seem like an innocuous search for the best soundtrack to your journey can be a hazard if it distracts the driver’s attention. And if they’re the ones turning that dial? Gently offer to take over the role of DJ so they can focus on the driving instead of the tunes.

‘You won’t believe this!’

You’ve seen a status update on your phone that’s made your jaw drop, and you can’t wait to share it with the driver. Bad idea, says Ronald. ‘When you pass someone your phone to have a quick look, it means they’ll be taking their eyes off the road. Even if it’s just for a second, the results can be disastrous.’

The last-second navigator

Telling the driver to take a right just before the turn-off means they have to slow down and make their move within seconds – possibly without indicating. It’s not difficult to see how this could cause an accident. Check the directions beforehand and give plenty of advance warning.

No more drama

If, in your opinion, it’s not only your driver who could do with a few lessons but everyone else on the road too, you need to calm your temper. ‘Don’t cause drama by shouting and gesturing at drivers who wait a nanosecond too long at a traffic light or do something else to rankle you – you could start a road-rage incident,’ cautions Ronald. Courtesy and consideration are as much part of being a good driver as alertness is.

But Don’t Ever Accept This From Your Driver

You have the right to speak out against any driving behaviour that makes you uncomfortable, especially:

  • Drinking (or taking drugs) and driving
  • Talking on the phone, or texting
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving and weaving through traffic
  • Aggressive behaviour towards other drivers, which may spark road rage.