How to Deal with Driving Anxiety Caused by a Backseat Driver

Driving fear and driving anxiety can be compounded by a variety of elements, and one of those elements is an incessant backseat driver. Backseat drivers are folks notorious for telling you what lane to use, how to merge, when you should speed up, slow down, or otherwise perform driving maneuvers they insist would be best for any given situation.

In other words, they’re trying to control the car, your driving and the entire situation even though they’re not sitting at the wheel. And their suggestions are not typically delivered in a positive or helpful way.

Not only can backseat drivers be excruciatingly irritating, but they can be downright dangerous. An esure car insurance survey found 14 percent of motorists have had a collision or near-miss because of backseat driving. A UK Motor Ombudsman survey found 38 percent of motorists list backseat driving as the top cause of in-car arguments.

So what can you do to decrease driving anxiety and fear exacerbated or caused by a backseat driver? These tips can help.

Calmly Tell Them How You Feel

While you may have the urge to shout about how irritated you are, try to stay cool, calm and collected as you express how their backseat driving makes you feel. Backseat drivers may be acting out of their own anxiety, so remaining calm is essential. Acknowledge the backseat driver’s concerns, but also express you own: that your mood and perhaps even your driving are being negatively affected.

Offer a Task that Provides Control

Backseat drivers are often acting out of the need to control, so give them something else to control instead. Perhaps they can be in charge of navigation, looking up directions, handling the music or audiobook selections, or researching where your next rest stop can be.

Listen to Something Engaging

A good selection of music or an intriguing audiobook or podcast is another strategic idea. Not only are you both inclined to enjoy what you’re listening to, but you both have to be quiet to hear it.

Explain the Dangers of Backseat Driving

Tell the backseat driver that you realize their instructions are meant to make your driving safer and better, but it can actually result in the opposite. Backseat driving can be very distracting for the driver, and you don’t want anything taking your attention from the road.

Refuse to Drive Them Anywhere

One more end-all solution is to simply refuse to drive when the backseat driver is in the car. You can opt out of driving them anywhere until they change their behavior, or insist they drive when you’re both traveling in a vehicle together.

If you’re open, honest and calm while dealing with a backseat driver, a compromise can often be reached before an ultimatum has to be issued. Either way, you have numerous ways to deal with an element that’s known to worsen or even cause driving anxiety and fear.