Criticisms from backseat drivers a major distraction

In a bid to highlight to passengers just how dangerous and distracting their “constructive criticism” of someone else’s driving performance can be, the AA has revealed the results of its recent poll which tackles the issue of backseat driving.

According to the AA’s poll, which surveyed close to 14,000 people, 60 per cent of us cannot resist taking on the sometimes unwelcome role of co-pilot when travelling with a driver we would classify as inexperienced.

“Learners and new drivers are undoubtedly on a steep learning curve and it’s instinctive for those with more experience to fall into the role of tutor,” says John Farrell, director of AA Insurance.

“However it is important to find the right balance between helping them learn in a comfortable environment and being disruptive to someone who needs to pour their full concentration into the task at hand.”

There’s no shortage of inter spousal nagging on our roads the poll also reveals. Of the thousands of survey participants who indicated they are married or in a relationship, 47 per cent admitted to “grinding the gears” of their partner over their driving skills while they are behind the wheel. The women surveyed emerged as marginally more inclined to do so than the men.

“While you might be trying to help, and we’re certainly not labelling you as a Hyacinth Bucket, you could well be doing more harm than good,” advises Farrell. “You’re creating noise and you’re potentially causing the driver to take his/her eyes off the road. Chances are you’ll also cause him/her to do more sudden maneouvres and generally send frustration levels through the roof.

“Our advice, from a road safety perspective is, unless it’s an emergency, try to maintain a diplomatic silence, push your foot on that imaginary brake if you need to, then offer your advice once you’ve pulled in.”

Parents, used to instructing their offspring in all manner of things, are not the worst when it comes to travelling as a passenger with one of their children the poll reveals. Just 28 per cent of the parents surveyed who have a son or daughter in possession of a driving licence said they could not help but slip into back-seat driver mode.


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