Gasping loudly when the driver brakes, complaining about speed and stamping on an imaginary brake pedal are among the signs you have a ‘backseat driver’ in the car with you, it was revealed yesterday.
A study of 2,000 motorists shows seven in 10 believe there is nothing more annoying than a passenger who frequently displays exaggerated emotion or offers unwanted ‘help’ or advice.
Criticising the driver’s decision-making, flinching when they appear to drive ‘too close’ to the car in front and pointing out the correct turnoff or junction also only serve to irritate those who are behind the wheel.
The top 20 list of annoyances also includes being involved in ‘road rage’ on the driver’s behalf, holding hands over their face and insisting on giving directions – usually when they are not needed.
David Carter, spokesman for Accident Advice Helpline, which carried out the research via OnePoll.com said: “You usually find backseat drivers are the people who would prefer to be in control of the car, rather than sitting in as a passenger.
“And if you’re someone who drives on a daily basis, it can be really hard to switch off and let someone else take control.
“Unfortunately, making comments and reacting to what is happening on the road while in the passenger seat can be a big distraction for the person driving.
“There is a higher risk of an accident or near-miss if the driver is having to fend off unhelpful feedback while trying to concentrate on the road.”
Researchers found nagging partners are the biggest backseat drivers, followed by mum and then dad.
Just under half of those polled have been in an argument with someone in the car due to their interfering comments, and an unfortunate five per cent have accidentally jumped a red light while remonstrating with an annoying passenger.
A quarter of people have missed a turning after being distracted, while seven per cent has endured more serious consequences such as a collision with a car, cyclist or pedestrian.
Other characteristics of a backseat driver – which could also be likely to cause a near-miss – include advising on which lane the car should be in, and telling the driver when to move at the traffic lights.
Interfering with the music or fiddling with the heating controls or air con is also distracting, as are frequent disagreements with the SatNav.
Reading out road signs as you pass them, waving ‘thanks’ at other drivers for letting ‘you’ out and gesticulating or swearing at other road users are also signs your passenger is a backseat driver.
But despite the issue being common-place only 21 per cent of motorists admitted THEY are backseat drivers when travelling in someone else’s car.
David Carter added: “Drivers and passengers alike turn to Accident Advice Helpline for help when they have been injured in non-fault accidents and driver distractions are often the root cause.
“We can all recognise the signs of backseat driving and should be more aware of their impact on driver’s emotions and levels of concentration.”
TOP 20 SIGNS OF A BACKSEAT DRIVER
- Criticising the driver’s decisions behind the wheel
- Complaining about the driver going too fast
- Gasping loudly at any slight braking movement
- Flinching when they feel the driver is too close to another vehicle/obstacle/wall etc
- Complaining about the driver going too slow
- Pointing out when to turn off or onto a road at a junction
- Pressing an imaginary brake pedal
- Advising on which lane the driver should be in
- Telling the driver when the traffic lights have changed to green
- Insisting on giving directions
- Interfering with the music
- Swearing at other cars’ drivers
- Gesticulating at other road users
- Getting road rage on the driver’s behalf and swearing at other drivers
- Waving ‘thanks’ at other drivers for letting you out
- Reading out the road signs as they pass
- Changing the in-car temperature
- Holding your hands over your face
- Closing your eyes frequently when someone else is driving
- Disagreeing with SatNav
By Emma Elsworthy