8 Jul 2020

Study finds back seat drivers can be useful

11:19 am on 8 July 2020

A study has revealed that back seat drivers can be useful and even help people to drive more safely.

Passenger holding map and showing the route map to driver on road trip.

Giving timely directions to a driver can be useful. Photo: 123RF

Despite the fact that most drivers have complained about back seat drivers offering unwanted advice, a new study has found that sometimes it can be useful - but it often depends on whether that advice has been sought or not.

Back seat drivers can even help prevent serious accidents says Samuel Charlton, who is a professor of psychology at the University of Waikato and also a co-author of research for the Automobile Association.

"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."

He told Morning Report there are some things that passengers can do which can help drivers, but the way that it is done is important.

"Having a passenger look out the left hand window and telling you whether it's clear to go or not is very helpful."

He said providing directions in a timely fashion or unwrapping or handing the driver food can also be helpful.

But he said how it is done is important and it is useful to have a conversation about what the driver expects before the journey begins.

Just criticising the driver's driving is not very helpful, Charlton said.