There’s nothing like packing up some food and filling up your tank and hitting the road with your friends. However, when it comes to driving long distance, a car full of people can make the ride a little bit of a nuisance. Not only that, but there is a study out there that found that backseat drivers are responsible for one in every seven accidents.
It may be fun to be out on the road with friends, but if you are a passenger, then you may be doing things that distract the driver. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were three distractions you should be aware of, regardless if you’re the one driving or riding along as the passenger. Those distractions included cognitive, manual and visual.
If you’re a passenger in a car, then you may be distracting the driver or contributing to it. There are a few common scenarios we will discuss. Afterwards, you’ll know how to be a better backseat driver.
1. Let GPS Do Its Job- Don’t be the type of backseat driver that gives directions. We all have been there, driving quietly when all of a sudden someone else in the car tells the driver they are going the wrong way. This can be a major distraction for the driver.
When you’re the passenger, you need to keep in mind that the driver probably knows where they are going. If they ask for help, then go ahead and tell them where you guys are. Other than that, just enjoy the ride and let their GPS do its job.
2. The Passenger That Snacks- Eating is both a manual and visual distraction. In fact, eating and driving increases the chances of an accident happening by up to 80 percent. Not only that, but near-miss crashes caused by drivers eating and driving are quite high.
Sure, your favorite snacks may be small and can fit into the cup holder, but you don’t want to get in the habit of sharing your snacks with others in the car. If you try to feed the driver or toss snacks into their mouth, then this is a recipe for disaster. If you get food and you don’t want it to get cold, then get a seat warmer and place the food on that and not on your lap.
3. The DJ Backseat Driver- Headbanging music may be what you’re used to listening at the gym, but your driver may not be a fan of it. They might not like the volume all the way up. What this means is you want to be mindful of the type of music you turn on and how loud you put it.
One study showed that the driver’s ability to drive can be impacted by the type of music that is being played and how loud it is. When drivers listen to music, then they can become distracted, especially if the music is at a high volume. With that said, you might be wondering exactly what you can do if you’re the passenger.
What you can do is keep the music low and don’t keep changing the channels on the radio. Don’t ask the driver to keep changing the channels because this can make things even more distracting. Play it safe and don’t touch the radio and don’t turn the volume all the way up.
4. The Athlete- Maybe you’ve just been to a game and now you’re all hyped up and for some reason or another you feel necessary to act like an athlete inside the car. This is a horrible idea and don’t even think about tossing around an object in the backseat because these things can make the driver feel anxious. They may end up losing control of the vehicle. With that said, wait until you guys reach your destination before you get into play mode and start acting like an athlete.
5. The Photographer- Are you the type of person who thinks everything and anything is Instagram worthy because if so, then you are probably distracting the driver with all the photos you snap along the way. There’s nothing wrong with taking photos, but just make sure the car ride isn’t affected by it. If possible, try to take photos while being quiet.
What you don’t want to be doing is shouting when you drive by something you want to take a photo of. Don’t jump out of your seat either because these things can cause the driver to panic and suddenly hit the breaks. This can lead to a major accident, so do your best to be mindful and quiet when snapping pictures along the way. If you see something and you want to tell the driver, then feel free to tell them, but don’t shout at them from out of nowhere.
Do you want to be a better backseat driver? Of course you do. All you have to do is keep the above tips in mind the next time you and your friends decide to hit the road.