The 7 cardinal sins of car passengers

Amy Bairstow
Amy Bairstow
The 7 cardinal sins of car passengers

We’ve probably all given a lift to a friend, relative or colleague at some point and ended up regretting it. Being a good passenger really is just as important as being a good driver. So to avoid being the backseat driver from hell next time you hop in for a ride, steer clear of committing these 7 car-dinal sins.

Thou shalt not honk the horn on behalf of the driver

You might be tempted to reach over and honk the horn if you see someone behaving badly on the road, but you’ll risk unleashing your driver’s righteous wrath if you do. The only person who should wield the aural warning system is the person behind the wheel, and if that’s not you then it’s a no-go. The same goes for sudden handbrake pranks, and other backseat driving in general.

Thou shalt not give bad or belated directions

"Turn left. No, the left we just passed!”

If you’re likely to get caught up in your story about a coworker’s epic embezzlement scandal and miss giving important directions, it’s best to hand the directing duties over to someone more diligent. Ditto if you’re the most likely person in the car to get lost. Otherwise, a road trip can quickly devolve into a series of left-hand turns and exasperated shouting that gets everyone precisely nowhere.

Thou shalt not dominate the dials

If it’s got a control knob, the driver dictates. This goes for the radio, climate control and the navigation system. And don’t you dare bump up the bass beyond all reason, because your driver will curse you next time they turn on their favourite podcast. The exception to this rule is if you’re asked to adjust something, and then this should take immediate priority over all snacks and phone scrolling.

So – no dial dominating unless you're given control!

Thou shalt not track in mud or sand

You’re all had a wonderful time at the beach or park and it’s time to leave. It’s important to leave the great outdoors where you found it, rather than deposit it on the car mats. This means doing the ol’ sandy feet shuffle or banging your shoes together until they’re clean. Otherwise, you might be the one carrying out the next meticulous car detail.

Thou shalt not be chauffeured

Don’t make it weird, passengers. If the front seat is free, don’t sit in the back seat. We take this passenger rule so seriously in Australia that it’s common to sit up front in taxis, though obviously this comes down to personal preference.

Of course if you are sitting up front with a friend driving, be sure to brush up on our rules of riding shotgun so you can truly shine in your supportive role.

Thou shalt not be miserly

We can all have our Scrooge-like tendencies from time to time, but this must never apply when you’re given a lift. The best way to begin any lengthy road journey is to offer to pay for your share of fuel. If this offer is refused, then it’s your moral responsibility to provide snacks and sustenance at road stops. If that means springing for the outrageously-priced bag of servo lollies, then so be it. This is simply the price we pay for being a passenger.

Thou shalt not touch the windows

This is one of the most subtle yet egregious passenger don’ts. No driver deserves to notice smears on their once-pristine passenger windows after they’ve offered a lift. So there is to be no resting of grubby paws or greasy foreheads on interior windows. Or even worse - heavens forbid - closing the door by placing your whole hand on the window itself.

Naturally the only souls who can commit any and all of these passenger sins are dogs, because they’re perfect just the way they are.

To summarise...

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