Not What The Back Seat Is For

By Kevin | 11th June 2012 | Category: Car and Van Info | Leave a comment

Recent research from comparison website has revealed what the biggest pet hate of the average UK motorist is; and it may not be what you think.

The obvious choices would be petrol prices. traffic jams and other drivers not acknowledging considerate driving, but it’s not them. Number one pet hate is – cue fanfare – back seat drivers.

In fact, two-thirds of drivers say they have been forced to suffer unwanted “advice” from their passengers; and in almost half of all cases, our partners are to blame.

It may all sound a bit of a laugh, and calling someone a ‘back-seat driver’ isn’t a real insult, but there is a serious side to it. A quarter of those questioned claimed to have had an accident as a direct result of dealing with distractions caused by annoying passengers, and this leads to an average of £500 in costs per motorist.

Gareth Kloet, head of car insurance at, said that back-seat driver antics could lead to higher motor premiums. “Our research shows that having other people in the car can distract us from the road, and lead to accidents. These then in turn increase the cost of our car-insurance policies.”

And the worst passengers are drivers themselves, perhaps because they know better – or think they do. According to the research, bus drivers, train drivers and delivery men were the most likely to antagonise those giving them lifts, whilst teachers were, unsurprisingly, the most patient and the most likely to hold their tongues. (Although they did tell the driver to stay behind afterwards for extra lessons!)

So, for those of us not used to being passengers, here are some tips from etiquette experts Debrett’s on how to behave in someone else’s vehicle.

  • Always take your litter with you.
  • Ask the driver’s permission before smoking, or eating greasy or smelly food.
  • Don’t offer to help with map reading or route advice unless you are asked to do so.
  • Don’t expect the driver to engage in conversation with you if he is carrying out a tricky manoeuvre or negotiating busy traffic.
  • Don’t criticise your driver’s skills.
  • The choice of music and temperature in the car are your driver’s. And don’t sulk if you can’t listen to your favourite radio station.
  • Don’t spend the whole trip chatting to friends on your mobile phone.
  • Don’t work yourself up into a state of road-rage on your driver’s behalf. It won’t help.

All obvious manners and common sense, but then again we are drivers, and once we are in a car the rules change, don’t they?

But how do you deal with a back seat driver who is coming up with hilarious lines such as “You just got overtaken by that mobility scooter” and “Don’t worry, I’ll walk to the kerb from here”?

The obvious choice is to make use of the car jack (only joking!) but then you could also try being sarcastic back. Here’s some one-liners that people suggest using that I found on the internet. (Don’t blame me if they’re not funny; blame the web!)

  • I’ve just been thinking through all the advice you’ve given. Mostly about how I couldn’t really care either way!
  • How do you like back-seat walking?
  • Ever had to sleep on the hard shoulder?
  • Do they not sell mouth clamps at the I’m-always-right shop?
  • Your driving advice is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
  • What rhymes with “next time you’re getting the train” and means “next time you’re getting the train”?
  • I once drove a lorry full of baboons from Edinburgh to Plymouth and it was 42 times better than having you in my car.

Maybe the car jack is a better idea!

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