As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

What Your Passengers Would Like To Tell You… But Probably Don’t

Nobody likes a backseat driver.  You know it and your passengers know how irritating backseat drivers are, especially if the passengers in question are drivers themselves at times. However, there are times when your passengers would really like to speak up and say something, but they don’t, because they don’t want to be annoying. This means that at times, some things that really need to be said don’t get said.

So what might your passengers secretly be itching to tell you about your driving but swallowing out of desire not to get up your nose? Or (if they have been trying to say something) what have you been ignoring? Perhaps it’s one of the following things…

Don’t Corner So Hard

Yes, you’ve got a great car that is built to handle corners well. It’s a real driver’s car with the more rigid sport-tuned suspension that really lets you feel the road well so you can put your car through its paces around those tight bends. You like to get the most out of that stability control package while you fulfil your rally driver dreams as much as you can legally on a public road. Your passengers are probably not so keen on being chucked about from one side to the other as the car zooms around those corners. Even if the car has sports-style bucket seats in the front, you hardly ever get sports seats in the back, so every corner becomes a G-force nightmare. You, the driver, have a nice steering wheel to hold onto with both hands to keep yourself in position. You also have footrests and pedals to brace your feet against.  The passengers… don’t.  At most, they’ll start hanging onto the chicken handles, which give a little bit of extra stability but not anywhere as much as the steering wheel does. There also isn’t a chicken handle for the middle rear seat. Believe me, if you think it’s bad as a passenger in a sportily driven car in the front seat or by the windows, you wait until you’ve sat in the middle with somebody on both sides of you, getting squashed AND chucked around at every turn.

And if you see the passengers hanging on to the passenger grips, don’t say anything along the lines with “What’s the matter with you?” or you might tip them over the edge.  Save the sporty rally driving for when you’re alone, or at least tone it down (and if your car has adjustable driving modes and tuning/suspension, set it to comfort mode, not sport mode).

I’ll Adjust The Sound System For You

You’re rather proud of the sound system in your car, whether it’s some snappy after-market job or the nice crisp one that came with the vehicle right from the factory floor. You want to get the most out of it by twisting knobs or tapping the touch screen to adjust the equalizer, the front-and-back balance, the bass-and-treble balance, etc. This is all very well and good, but do you have to do it while driving along at the legal speed limit?  All too many accidents happen while the driver is fiddling around with the audio system. Steering-wheel mounted audio controls that switch mode, adjust the general volume and/or skip forward and back have made some of the job a lot safer, but a steering wheel that has all the fine tuning and balancing for the audio either isn’t available or would be just as distracting.  Either get the settings right before you start, pull over or get your passenger to do it.  It’s alarming to be riding as a passenger watching the driver bend down to fiddle with knobs and other controls while you just sit there, watching the car drift while you sit there helplessly…

Warn Me If It’s Getting Bumpy Or Bendy

Passengers don’t get the fun of driving, obviously. This means that they have to find other things to do during a long journey. This is why auxiliary plugs, cup holders, reading lights and sound systems have been included in cars. However, if your passenger is in in the act of adjusting the sound system, texting or taking a sip of that coffee-on-the-go when you swoop around a corner, dodge potholes or get to that uneven and bumpy bit on the road, things get messy – literally in the case of the coffee. Often, passengers aren’t concentrating on the road ahead like you are, so if they’re doing things that need a bit of fine motor control, things turn to custard if their balance and momentum are affected by the G-forces and bumping that you saw coming and they didn’t.  We’ll warn you if we’re doing something that could get messy, but do warn us

Let Me Take The Wheel If You’re Tired

On a long-haul trip, it’s easy to let fatigue settle in, so sharing the driving is best.  Your passenger will be able to nap while you drive so he/she can be fresh to take over the wheel. However, if you’re the sort who likes to just bash on through without any fuss and just get there, your passenger may not be able to relax enough to nap and stay fresh because he/she knows that you won’t admit you’re tired and need someone else to take over the wheel until you’re on the point of nodding off.  “I need to stay awake to slap him/her awake if he/she nods off at the wheel,” could be what your passenger is thinking. The result is two tired people, none of who is fit to drive safely.  It’s a lot safer (and a lot less fuss and a lot more efficient so you “just get there quickly”) if you reassure the passenger that you will indeed swap seats when you get weary, so that he/she can relax enough to put the seat back and have a snooze.

When I’ve Got To Go, I’ve Got To Go

Your passenger probably doesn’t want to nag you and remind you endlessly about the need to use the loo. He or she will probably say “I need to pee,” just the once and then expect you to find the next public loo or pull over at the next public toilet on the way (or large bush if you’re out on a rural road). If you’re concentrating on your driving and have to negotiate a stop sign or so and then forget what your passenger asked, he/she will be left bursting. He/she hasn’t forgotten that they need the loo just because a fire engine whizzed past forcing you to pull over and then you saw the Audi of your dreams in the next lane over and then…

Be extra quick to respond in the case of small children who haven’t quite got the same bladder or bowel control as adults, or in the case of a passenger who needs to throw up (see the first point about cornering). If you don’t pull over as soon as possible, then you’ve only got yourself to blame when there’s a mess on the seats.