Don’t lose your cool
It’s something we all dread: the back-seat driver. They think they know best, and they critique your driving at every turn. The worst thing about it is you’re not even sure they realize they’re doing it. It’s tempting to light into them, to give them a piece of your mind just to keep them from patronizing you, but you don’t want tension on your road trip, so you bite your tongue. In all honesty, biting your tongue will encourage them to continue, raise your anxiety, and put your entire rig in jeopardy. How do you deal with them constructively?
Be frank with them
You understand the risks, but do they? Do they understand that their commentary is putting you on edge, making you focus more on what they’re saying and what you’re doing wrong than on the road? Tell them their outbursts are making you nervous, and a nervous driver makes mistakes that could be catastrophic, especially when you’re driving a vehicle as big and heavy as an RV. Their comments aren’t helping you at all; rather, they’re more dangerous than helpful.
Keep them busy
Consider that their critiques could be born from boredom. Think of different tasks they can perform that will keep them out of your hair so you can focus on getting safely to your next destination. Make their tasks part of your trip planning. Before you even start, give them integral tasks to perform throughout the trip so they won’t bother you as much but still feel helpful.
Make them drive
Consider if they truly are better at driving and if they have experience driving an RV. If so, let them drive, and sit in the passenger seat to observe. Fight the urge to do the same thing to them that they do to you when you drive. Instead, take the time to relax and learn a bit more about the road. We can all use advice, and it just may be that they know things you don’t.
Turn the radio up
This isn’t an attempt to drown them out but rather another outlet for them to focus on. If they like talk radio, find a good podcast that you can both engage with and talk about rather than focus on your driving. Let them steer the conversation however they like, but be sure to engage with them rather than ignore them. If they feel you’re ignoring them, they’re less likely to continue the conversation and will go back to their old standby.
Don’t take them with you
Leave them behind. If you’re planning a short trip and this person isn’t part of your immediate family, don’t invite them. If you’ve tried everything else and they just won’t stop offering suggestions and driving you crazy, then uninvite them on your adventures. If they ask why you stopped taking them, be honest with them so they understand that the behavior is unacceptable and they must change their ways to be invited again.
Are they right?
Are you a reckless driver? Before getting angry with them, observe your own driving habits. Are they careless and dangerous? If so, your back-seat driver is not the problem. Make a concerted effort to drive safer, and give yourself extra time to reach your destination. Sit down with your back-seat driver, and talk honestly to them. Ask them what they’ve noticed you’re doing wrong, and see if you honestly agree. If you can see their point and you agree that it’s an issue, work to correct the behavior so that every future trip is safer for you and other motorists you share the road with.
Back seat drivers force us to take our attention off the road, so it’s a good thing we have the right insurance coverage. If you feel you’re paying too much for insurance, check out the incredibly low insurance rates offered by the RV Advisor. You’ll be amazed at what we cover!