Are You a Backseat Driver? Here are the Signs

Some people make very bad passengers; they would certainly prefer it if they were the driver and get the nickname backseat drivers because they interfere or make comments about the driver's technique and safety. We have all been in a car with a backseat driver, and some common warning signs include trying to press an imaginary break or tutting and sighing when the driver makes certain actions.

Unwanted Help

It can be incredibly frustrating to have a passenger who considers themselves a backseat driver, and recently over 2000 motorists gave their opinion, with 7 out of 10 saying that it is seriously unhelpful and stressful to be in this situation. Some people feel that these gestures are a little bit easier to deal with than the backseat driver who just can't help but verbalise their desire to be in control. Another annoyance that backseat drivers seem to have in common is that they flinch if they think the driver has got too close to a car when braking. How about the backseat driver who feels the need to warn you that aturning is coming up even when you are fully aware of it?

Unconscious Response

Some backseat drivers will argue that their responses are completely subconscious and out of their control. If somebody drives on a daily basis but for some reason has to rely on someone else to take them, for example, because they are injured or their car has broken down, it can be difficult to remember that they are not in the driving seat. If you have a tendency to be a backseat driver, you do need to try and check your behaviour as you can be creating stress and distracting the person actually in control. This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy and cause an accident that would not have happened if you weren't trying to take over.

A Cause for Divorce?

The most reported backseat drivers came in the form of a spouse or partner. Parents came next, and around 50% of those who completed the survey said that it had caused an argument between them because the backseat driver was interfering. The stress of backseat driving had upset 5% of survey respondents so much, but they had inadvertently jumped a red light which, of course, made things much worse.Backseat driving has also caused the real driver to miss a turning, get into the wrong lane, and in the worst cases, lead to a collision with another vehicle, pedestrian a cyclist. Thinking you are being helpful can also be a distraction to the driver; this includes changing the satnav, fiddling with the air-conditioning, thanking other drivers or offering an all-clear when trying to pull out at a junction. It is really important to remember that the best way to be a passenger is to keep entirely quiet about the way the driver is performing unless they ask for help or input.

Do You Struggle with Driving Abroad?

If you do, you certainly are not alone. We are, of course, talking about countries that drive on the right side of the road, and 45% of drivers told the AA driving school survey that they had come across problems trying to navigate safely abroad.

Remember Where You Are

Worryingly about 9% of those surveyed said that they actually forgot that they needed to be driving on the right side of the road and carried on driving on the left. Clearly, this is a recipe for disaster as they risk a head-on collision with traffic coming towards them. 3% confessed that it had led to a very near-miss experience, and 5% said they forgot and, although they started out on the right, drifted over to the left. Of course, it is pretty tricky for your brain to adapt when you have been driving a certain way all your life; however, the AA is warning people to be on high alert and think carefully when going in a new country.

Lots Going On

One of the reasons that drivers are caught out is because of the nature of busy arrival points. Generally, if you are driving in Europe, you arrive by Eurotunnel or ferry, and if you are flying in, you are likely to rent a car from the airport. All of these destinations are really busy, and getting out requires a lot of concentration as you navigate road signage to help you on your way. Add to this the confusion of driving on the right and 80s little wonder that drivers who normally drive on the left really start to struggle. It also doesn't help if you've had a long journey and are feeling tired, you haven't got enough sleep. You really do need to up your concentration.

Junctions and Roundabouts

Of course, driving on the right is only one part of the problem. You didn't have to navigate junctions and roundabouts and drive at night. Over 34% said it was all very stressful. Interestingly those aged under 24 had the most issues navigating right-hand traffic, and of course, they have less experience with the roads. Drivers over 65 were the most likely age group to forget where they should be driving and end up on the left.

Other Issues

Another issue raised by a lot of drivers is the fear of breaking down in a foreign country. Luckily the AA is on hand with European breakdown cover for its drivers, and this makes things slightly easier as you simply contact them as usual, and they will assist. The AA has also encouraged drivers to be careful with satnav and allow plenty of time for any journeys. If you feel unsafe or overwhelmed with driving on the wrong side of the road at any time, you should find somewhere safe to rest and take a break. Finally, it is worth remembering that speed limits, parking rules and the look and feel of roadsigns can be very different in other countries, so you need to give yourself time to acclimate.