Driven to distraction – nagging passengers put strain on drivers.

Many female drivers say they face a constant bombardment of criticism over their skills on the road when they have a male passenger.

According to the AA, 58 per cent of ladies are nagged at by their partners or male family members when they get behind the wheel.

But women aren't innocent either, with 50 per cent of men saying their motoring ability has been critiqued and even slated by female backseat drivers.

It seems that both sexes are keen to point the finger of blame when it comes to backseat driving but just a third (33 per cent) admitted to ever being one themselves.

The AA's research found the most common reasons for on the road criticism, and even in car arguments, is the driver not appearing to be aware of what is going on in the road in front of them, which 49 per cent of respondents said particularly irked them.

Not breaking soon enough at junctions was cited as an annoyance by 44 per cent, while driving too fast and being too near to the car in front were mentioned by 42 per cent and 39 per cent respectively.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Back seat driving may seem harmless but it can lead to severe confidence issues for the driver being nagged.

“Often it feels like we just can’t help ourselves, especially if we think we are being driven dangerously, but constant back seat driving can distract and frustrate a driver.

“If you really feel you are justified in your criticism, wait until you have pulled over before giving it. Professional driving help might also be a good way to help correct the driving that worries you, while leaving your relationship intact.”

Last month's Dangerous Drivers' School programme on Channel 5 highlighted the issue. On the show, Helen Wilson from Halifax, West Yorkshire, said that nagging from her sister and her best friend had caused her to lose confidence on the road.

She was taken out in a car with an AA instructor and found that she didn't have a problem driving but the stigma of constant criticism had caused her to doubt her own ability behind the wheel.

She said that the most satisfying part of the experience was being able to go back to her sister and friend and tell them they were wrong about her driving skills.

“It was a really good feeling to be able to tell Jean and Cath that I was right – I can drive well!” Miss Wilson stated.

During the summer car insurance firm Esure conducted research which found that drivers are 60 per cent more likely to be involved in road accident if they are being distracted by a passenger in their car.

The company's 'Driver Distraction' study found that more than half (51 per cent) of drivers have gotten angry while on the road because of a back-seat drivers complaints, while 40 per cent said it had made them anxious and six per cent admitting that it had made the burst out in tears.

Young people were the most affected. Some 64 per cent of those questioned under the age of 25 said that they had lost their temper with a passenger while driving, while 54 per cent admitted to taking their eyes of the road in front of them so they could talk to someone else in the vehicle.

So, it seems that other than using the best car polishes and shampoos around, the best way to look after your car and ensure your road safety, might be to take as many journey's as possible alone.

Posted by Mark Henderson

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