Monday, December 9, 2019

The Back-Seat Driver Can Be a Driver’s Helper

Highway guard rail broken from car crash
Broken guard rail on a highway

Distracted drivers kill approximately 9 people and injure over 1000 more each day in the US. Automobile drivers can be distracted in three ways:

  1. Manually, mainly taking your hands off the steering wheel
  2. Visually, taking your eyes off the traffic and road
  3. Cognitively, not thinking about driving

Many activities people engage in while driving are distracting. Texting is especially problematic, because it combines all three types of distraction.

Instead of nagging the driver about potential distractions, the back-seat driver can be part of the solution. Here are a few things a passenger can do to aid the driver.

  • Read maps and road signs. Look for landmarks or places to take a break or grab some food. 
  • Be in charge of electronics:
    • Operate the GPS
    • Check information on the mobile phone
    • Answer text messages and phone calls
  • Keep the car comfortable with air conditioning, heating, and music.
  • Take care of children and pets in the back seat. Be sure they are all properly secured. Sometimes it is best to sit in the back seat with a cranky child or nervous pet to keep them calm. 

If the driver does become distracted, gently remind him or her to focus on driving. If the problem seems to be driver fatigue, suggest pulling over for a break, a meal, or a change of drivers.

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