Posted by: safedriver | April 21, 2012

Should passengers control the driver’s choices?

I trust my friends and family very much. When you’re down and need help, you can always count on your family and friends to bail you out, right? I’ve helped my friends move furniture, fix their cars, redecorate and many other things. They’ve also helped me in similar situations, but where does helping others stop? The old saying that a friend will help you move, but a good friend will help you move a body isn’t really that accurate. Sometimes we need our friends to leave us alone. Would you let a good friend help you drive and help you make driving decisions?

Each season that I worked on Canada’s Worst Driver as a judge, I would often hear how the participants would ask their passengers what they should do next. This was a common part of their everyday driving, but should it? Shouldn’t the decisions be made by the driver, not the passenger?

Being a proactive driver means you’re thinking ahead and anticipating what may happen and then respond early to avoid conflict. Being a proactive driver means you’ll have more time to make these decisions and not rely on your passengers. After all, your passenger may be wrong and they aren’t the ones pressing the gas and brake pedal and steering the vehicle out of harm’s way anyway.

We tend to make our every day events into habits. If you make a habit out of asking for constant help from your passenger, you’ll stop making your own choices. When I’m teaching students at Young Drivers of Canada I’ll show and explain how to do a skill one lesson and then review it. The next lesson they’ll have the chance to show me how much they can remember how to perform that skill. I don’t want them to rely on me to do their thinking for them. I won’t always be there to help, so they really need to make ‘thinking on their own’ a habit.

Considering that making decisions while driving can sometimes be seconds apart of one another, you won’t really have time to ask someone the question, wait for them to think of the answer and then reply to you. It has to be so quick that only you, the driver can decide what to do. The passengers that are riding with you should also be made aware of this.

I’ve met many people who have passengers that always try to make the driving decisions for the driver. They need to stop. They are forcing a new habit onto the driver; to always let the passenger make the driving decisions. During season one of Canada’s Worst Driver, there was a participant who constantly relied on their friend to make the decisions for them. I offered to take the friend in the vehicle to assess their driving ability and they weren’t as good of a driver as they thought. They told their friend, as did I, and the participant finally improved their driving. This was mainly because they were starting to rely on their own decisions and not their passenger.

Look well ahead and anticipate what may happen and make solid driving decisions. Make early choices and believe in your choices. After all, you’re the driver.

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