All the signs you're a back-seat driver, according to study

'Back-seat drivers are the people who would prefer to be in control of the car, rather than sitting in as passenger'

Emma Elsworthy
Wednesday 06 June 2018 14:47 BST
The top sign of being a back-seat driver is criticising the driver's decisions behind the wheel
The top sign of being a back-seat driver is criticising the driver's decisions behind the wheel

Gasping loudly when the driver brakes, complaining about speed and stamping on an imaginary brake pedal are among the signs you have a ‘back-seat driver’ in the car with you, according to new research.

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 turn-off or junction also only serve to irritate those 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, said: “You usually find back-seat 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 back-seat 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 have endured more serious consequences such as a collision with a car, cyclist or pedestrian.

Other characteristics of a back-seat 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 are 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 back-seat driver.

But despite the issue being commonplace, only 21 per cent of motorists admitted THEY are back-seat 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 back-seat driving and should be more aware of their impact on driver’s emotions and levels of concentration.”

Top 20 signs of a back-seat driver:

1. Criticising the driver's decisions behind the wheel

2. Complaining about the driver going too fast

3. Gasping loudly at any slight braking movement

4. Flinching when they feel the driver is too close to another vehicle/obstacle/wall etc

5. Complaining about the driver going too slowly

6. Pointing out when to turn off or onto a road at a junction

7. Pressing an imaginary brake pedal

8. Advising on which lane the driver should be in

9. Telling the driver when the traffic lights have changed to green

10. Insisting on giving directions

11. Interfering with the music

12. Swearing at other cars' drivers

13. Gesticulating at other road users

14. Getting road rage on the driver's behalf

15. Waving 'thanks' at other drivers for letting you out

16. Reading out the road signs as they pass

17. Changing the in-car temperature

18. Holding your hands over your face

19. Closing your eyes frequently when someone else is driving

20. Disagreeing with satnav


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