How to do things: How to be the good kind of back seat driver
By Brian McDonald
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Ever pressed that imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side? Do you often feel your blood pressure rising as you sit powerless at the mercy of an inferior driver? How come, when you point out an obvious error, drivers always repay you with annoyance?
Believe it or not, no matter how frustrated you feel, your driver feels equally frustrated, if not more. Here are some ways to become a better backseat driver.
First of all, it's okay to recognize driving differences - everyone has a unique way of driving, just as everyone has unique handwriting. As long as penmanship is legible (or the driving within legal parameters), there is no cause for alarm. Therefore, relish the rare opportunity to relax amidst all the day's activities. Try some deep-breathing. Envision peaceful and calm settings in nature. Put on some good driving music.
If you have to say something critical, say it as nicely as possible. Instead of raising shrill warning cries and yelling at the driver, try a calmer, indirect approach; the driver will be far more receptive.
That is, if you choose your moments wisely. No driver appreciates a new suggestion or complaint every half-minute. As a back seat driver, it's often difficult to judge whether your complaints are legitimate or simply reflect your desire for control. Does the driver have a track record filled with costly, reckless accidents? If not, then most likely there isn't a mistake being made every half-minute. And if mutual friends don't share your concerns about this driver, it's possible that the driver can't do anything to please you short of giving you the car keys. I'm talking to you, mom.
There are constructive ways of being a back seat driver. Assume responsibility for all of the non-driving duties; you can be the one who looks for the right exit, changes the radio station, looks at the map, turn the fan on or calls friends. In these and many other small ways, you can help the driver (and yourself) stay safe far better than by nagging and panicking.
Lastly, even the best driver sometimes fails to notice an impending accident in time. If you, the passenger, see all of the warning signs lining up while your driver appears unaware, speak up and be absolutely clear about what you see. In this case, being a back seat driver could save lives.
There's nothing wrong with vigilance as a passenger. In fact, keeping an eye on the road makes the road a safer place. "Back seat driver" is a generally negative label these days, but you can turn those negatives into positives by offering constructive advice at proper times, in a way that also conveys some appreciation.
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