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I am 24 and I have had a driver's license since I was 18. My mom and dad bought me a car after I got my license, but I rarely drove it because I went to another town to continue my studies and didn't want them to pay for fuel. I don't have much experience behind the wheel (~5000 km) but I always try to remain vigilant on the road.

Most of the time I go shopping with my mom or dad to a nearby town because neither of them can drive. They act as my navigators. The main problem is that they are always giving me bits of advice how to drive, and when I do something they think is wrong, they get angry and ask me what I'm doing. This is happening mainly while I'm parking or trying to exit a tight spot. I do it slowly and sometimes my dad pressures me to do what he says.

This behavior gets me anxious and insecure about my driving skills. I'm starting to make a lot of small mistakes when I'm not calm. I've never hit my car and I've never even touched another car's bumper while parking (I don't have parking sensors). I don't have tickets, either. I've already talked with them about this, but they don't seem to understand the problem.

I'm not sure what to do to stop this.

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Neither of your parents drive but they have opinions on how to do it. I am not sure this is as much a parenting problem as a situation with an adult interfering with another adult. (I also can no longer drive, but as I appreciate the lifts -- so my comments are reserved for the unexpected and possibly unseen hazards.)

You are an adult. Set boundaries. You'd appreciate someone saying something that might save a life, "A child just ran out behind us", but not "look both ways before you cross the intersection."

So, pick a quiet time away from the car for a respectful talk. (I assume that buying you the car meant you'd help them.) Set some guidelines and use examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Telling them that you will not drive them if they keep 'backseat driving' because it is dangerous. You can and will run the errands for them. "Make a list and I'll do the shopping." You would drop off a parent at the doctor's, but other than important appointments, you will be less available. If they show you that they are trying, then you will have more 'car' time with them.

They are not stupid, right?! They can be told it is dangerous to disturb your driving. Dangers of backseat driving -- they cause 1/7 accidents

Here are some other ideas:

  • (Tell your parents that you will) Look at your driving and consider that you made them uneasy. Stay calm and avoid things like aggressive overtaking or speeding. If you made them uncomfortable with your driving you cannot blame them.

  • Thanks God for GPS. It eliminates many arguments about wrong directions and turns. You can also blame GPS when you took the wrong route instead of map reader. Even you know the way turn on the navigation to show them that you won’t be lost and you don’t need them watch the road for you.

  • Turn on the radio to something they may like. This will take their mind off the road and they will probably leave you alone.

  • Alternatively, you can make sure that they take their favorite gadget to be occupied during the journey.

  • Ask the other passengers engage in conversation with the nervous Nellie. If they strike a conversation between themselves they may leave you alone.

  • Gently tell them that they aren’t helping and it is safer if only one of you drive it. Remember not to push buttons because it can quickly backfire and you get blamed for all sorts of things.

  • (This does not fit with your specific problem.) Handover your driving seat. It is more likely that your partner would be the one to complain about your driving and she/he would be insured to drive the car. Offering the option to drive may solve the problem as long as you don’t now become the backseat driver.

  • Plan ahead the long journeys together. Needing a break or not knowing when they will have one can agitate passengers. If they know where they are, what they will see on the road and when they when they will stop for lunch can set their mind at ease. Taking short breaks can be distraction from boredom as well.

When in doubt, or if you are losing your temper, or control: Pull over to the side of the road, turn off the car (if plausible) and wait until you are calm. There's never any point in being DEAD right.

  • Your link is excellent. So an insurance company tells us that backseat drivers cause one in seven car accidents. – gnasher729 May 10 '17 at 20:03
  • @gnasher729 the first link was the same info but from The Daily Mail -- so it needed a sanity check... ;) – WRX May 10 '17 at 20:07
2

I feel for you. Not only do you have a backseat driver, which is bad enough, but you have two, which is twice as bad, and they can't even drive, which is just about the worst. Not being a driver themselves means that their "advice" will often be wrong and even dangerous, not just distracting.

Here's a thing you can do: First, buy yourself a GPS. Then book a hotel 500 miles away for Saturday night, leave home on early Saturday morning, stay there overnight and return home on Sunday morning. Just to show your parents that you can drive just fine without them. It will be a shock to the system for them, which is what they need.

For parking: Don't park your car with them in the car. Stop your car earlier, let your parents out, stop the car. If they refuse, turn around and go home. When you leave the place where you parked, tell them to stay where they are while you pick up the car. If they walk with you to the car, you stop and walk back.

While driving: Give them a newspaper each. An iPad is even better. Any comments to your driving, you shout "go back to your newspaper" or "go back to your iPad". If this doesn't help, you stop the car. What would really demonstrate that you mean it is stopping your car say three miles away from home and walking back. Another thing that teaches is hitting the brakes hard when they start interfering (obviously you want to be in total control of your environment when you do that, with nobody anywhere near you in your back). Just a short, hard kick on the brake pedal (this also works beautifully on people who don't like wearing seat belts).

Backseat drivers are dangerous. Your parents are dangerous. If you don't stop them, one day they will kill you, or themselves, or some innocent person on the street. Keep that in mind. Good luck and lots of strength to you.

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