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The Golden Rules For Passengers

passengersUsually, we write for drivers. However, as most of us have noticed at some point, the typical car has more than one door and more than one seat (with the exceptions of a few extreme race-inspired units such as the Abarth 695 Biposto . One of the main attractions of cars is that they can take the whole family or at least another person as well as the driver.

Plenty has been written about good behaviour when driving and how to be courteous to other drivers. Not much has been said about the way passengers ought to behave. Without further ado, then, here are the golden rules that all passengers ought to obey.

  1. 1.       Do not tell the driver what to do or what he or she ought to be doing.  The obvious exception to this is if you are teaching someone else to drive. You are also allowed to speak up if the driver is exceeding the speed limit and making you feel frightened or if you have been asked to navigate using an old-fashioned map rather than a GPS. Otherwise, belt up in both senses of the word.
  2. 2.       Inform the driver if you feel sick or need to pee in plenty of time. Please believe me when I say that we really don’t want to clean up the mess if you explode from either end. And do give the driver lots of warning so that he or she can pull over in a convenient spot where the car can be parked safely (for the driver’s benefit) and where there’s a decent large bush and/or a handy public lavatory (for your benefit). The only exception to this is if you are under the age of two.
  3. 3.       Don’t kick the back of the driver’s seat. Lumbar support and lots of padding can only do so much and the driver can’t do all that much with a bony knee or toe pressing into his/her kidneys. If you are a tall lanky type and you like to ride in the rear on the driver’s side but the driver likes to have the seat well back, you may have to find a compromise.
  4. 4.       Don’t touch the driver. You should even be cautious if you are the beloved of the driver and want to be in constant physical contact with him or her. Keep it to a light hand on the knee or shoulder.  Anything else is off limits. If you are too young to know not to pull at Mum or Dad’s sleeve for attention when Mum/Dad is driving, you are too young to be in the front seat.
  5. 5.       Wear your seatbelt. No exceptions. Do it.
  6. 6.       Assist the driver by holding coffee cups if no holder is available, adjusting temperature controls and similar dials. On cold days when the inside of the windscreen is fogged or if something has smeared across the inside of the windscreen, help out by applying tissues or cloths to help clear the driver’s vision.
  7. 7.       Open the gates. If there’s a closed gate that needs to be opened, it’s the front passenger’s job to open it.
  8. 8.       Don’t distract the driver at crucial moments. One of several reasons why the authorities don’t like the driver texting or phoning while driving is because the person on the other end of the phone can’t see what’s going on and won’t shut up during a tricky manoeuvre. You can. Negotiating heavy traffic in a multilane roundabout is a bad moment to show the driver your finished school project, the great photo your friend just posted on Facebook or the hilarious cartoon in the newspaper. Wait for a traffic jam.
  9. 9.       On long drives at night, be prepared to slap the driver and scream if he/she starts drowsing at the wheel. Do your bit to help the driver stay alert by providing stimulating conversation or offering to help out.
  10. 10.   If you’re in the rear seat of three rows in an MPV, don’t start screaming for the driver in the middle of Sydney Harbour Bridge. And if you’re the driver, (a) don’t put a child who’s likely to scream in some inaccessible place and (b) grit your teeth and try to endure the screams until you get to a suitable place.

Safe and happy driving and being driven,