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Backseat Drivers Are Actually Really Helpful, New Study Says

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Backseat Drivers Are Actually Really Helpful, New Study Says

There's one rule when it comes to the car - if you're not driving, keep your opinions to yourself.

However, according to a new study, 'backseat drivers' are actually pretty helpful and could even reduce accidents on the road.

Backseat driving can actually be useful (Credit: Shutterstock)
Backseat driving can actually be useful (Credit: Shutterstock)

The study, by the University of Waikato, found backseat drivers could be helpful for drivers over the age of 24.

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"There's this perception out there that passengers can be distracting, nagging and so-forth, but after the age of 24 having a passenger in your car actually decreases the chance you're going to have a crash," said study co-author, Professor Samuel Charlton.

However, under the age of 24, having a passenger in the car can actually do the opposite. The researchers wanted to find out why, so they asked drivers what type of behaviour they found helpful and what they wished their backseat driver had done more of.

As well as surveying the participants, researchers also videoed the drivers and found indirect advice - for example pointing out an upcoming hazard - was particularly useful.

Sorting the music was particularly helpful (Credit: Unsplash)
Sorting the music was particularly helpful (Credit: Unsplash)
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The study revealed drivers found it helpful when their passengers checked to see if they were too tired, or needed a break. They also reported it useful when they took over tasks such as sorting out music, air conditioning or handing over driving snacks or drinks.

And it seems the topics of conversation played a big part, too, with drivers finding chatting helpful - but not about 'annoying' topics.

When it came to the kind of criticism we associate with irritating backseat driving, a lot of it came down to tone. While pointing out hazards was helpful, commenting on driving style or another driver's behaviour was not.

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Similarly, focusing on aspects of the journey out of the driver's control (for example, if they were running late) was not helpful either.

Added to that, making loud and unexpected noises - or having phone conversations - was also a bugbear.

"Having a conversation about what the driver expects and finds helpful is really important, before the journey begins," continued Professor Charlton. "And universally, people don't like having their driving commented on."

So basically guys, hand us snacks and drinks but don't say say a word about our dodgy hill starts, gottit?

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Topics: Life News, Driving

Lucy Devine
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