The unspoken rules of riding shotgun

Amy Bairstow
Amy Bairstow
The unspoken rules of riding shotgun

The front passenger seat is the highly coveted position for any Aussie road trip - you get more legroom and the best view. But the moment you call ‘shotgun’, you also agree to some unspoken rules and responsibilities.

‘Shotgun’ holds a lot of power. Use it wisely, you must.

So before you utter that sacred word and bag the best seat in the car, make sure you’re fully aware of what to do - and more importantly, what not to do. Here’s a quick refresher for every front seat hero.

Never neglect your do-er duties

As soon as your butt hits the front passenger seat, you’re the designated do-er. You’re the navigator, the gate opener-and-closer, the drive-through coordinator and the phone-call fielder. You are also the DJ, but remember that the driver always has veto power over music choice.

Remember: slacking off is for the losers in the back seat.

Never comment on the mess

The shotgun rider is polite, and willing to overlook the empty energy drink cans rolling around in the passenger footwell. Any comments like, “That reminds me, I have to clean my house” or, “Why is there only one shoe in here?” could see you instantly banished to the back seat.

You must not add to the mess: merely ignore it.

Never sleep or scroll straight away

Your role as shotgun rider is to entertain and energise. As such, getting into the car and immediately taking a nap is straight up out of the question. The only caveat to this rule is if you’re on a reeeally long road trip and will be driving next.

The same gist goes for phone use. Looking up gossip, cool facts or obscure Wikipedia pages for debate is recommended; zombie scrolling is not.

Never forget the snacks

All the snacks. Something salty, something sweet, and maybe something weird. Naturally you’ll be expected to open any juice caps or milk cartons for the driver, and apply tomato sauce to pies in the precise way that the driver prefers. If there are passengers in the back seat, you may delegate snack duties to them instead. However, with this option you do run the risk of poor snack choices - so outsource with caution.

Too much responsibility? Consider the ‘I call shotgun’ origin story

If ever you feel daunted by your list of shotgun duties, just think: if you were riding shotgun in the early 1900s you would have been expected to fight off bandits and bushrangers. Which admittedly, does sound kind of awesome.

Never dishonour the rules of calling shotgun

The ‘I call shotgun’ rules are age-old, and they are as follows:

  • Shotgun can only be called in clear sight of the car. If shotgun is called while still in a building, that declaration is null and void.
  • If two people call shotgun at the same time, a frantic foot race shall immediately begin between the two contenders. The first to touch the front passenger door handle wins shotgun privileges.
  • If the shotgunner tries to open their door as the driver unlocks the vehicle, making the driver lock-and-unlock all over again, the shotgunner forfeits their shotgun privileges.
  • The driver has final say over shotgun, which is why it’s vital to pay attention to your responsibilities. A slack shotgun rider might never be trusted to shotgun again.

To sum up

Like all great destinies, duty goes in hand with glory when it comes to riding shotgun. Poor passenger etiquette can make or break a road trip - even if it’s just to the servo - so be sure to uphold the shotgun rules and honour the long line of front seat riders who have gone before you.

And if you’re looking for a dependable ride, you can always search used cars for sale in Sydney with Carma. Every single car is thoroughly checked over, detailed, and ready for delivery or pickup in time for your next adventure.

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