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The 8 most annoying passenger habits revealed

calendar Published on: Monday, 21st May 2018 | male icon Author: Kevin Thorpe

Hitting the open road with friends and family can be great fun, especially on long journeys. However, every now and then drivers have to deal with unruly and ill-mannered passengers, which can cause irritation and sometimes lead to arguments. In fact, one study by car insurance specialist Admiral found that 33 percent of drivers had experienced a row with a passenger, while 15 percent had actually asked someone to leave the vehicle.

Whether it’s criticising your driving technique, changing the radio station without permission or giving the wrong directions, these passenger behaviours can really grind your gears when you’re behind the wheel. They can also be potentially dangerous, and put you and other road users at an increased risk of accidents. Here are the eight most annoying passenger habits revealed.

1. Backseat Driving

We’ve all had to deal with unwanted advice from a friend or family member who thinks they could do a better job at driving than you. Most motorists would agree that there’s an unwritten rule when it comes to passengers: if you’re not the one doing the driving, you shouldn’t make comments or criticise the person who is. Whether they’re telling you to speed up or slow down, commenting on your parking abilities or voicing their concern that you’re too close to another car, backseat driving often tops the list for most irritating passenger habits. It can also be highly distracting for the driver and lead to near-misses and even collisions if it causes them to become stressed and means they aren’t paying enough attention to the road.

2. Messiness

Another common gripe for many drivers is messiness. From drink spillages and leaving crumbs on the seat, to littering and getting in the car with dirty shoes, passengers who are untidy and don’t clean up after themselves can be a real source of annoyance. After all, not only does it show a lack of respect for your property, but it also means you have to spend extra time tidying your car or getting it professionally cleaned. To prevent these not-so-perfect passengers from leaving your car in a mess and ruining the upholstery, you might want to establish a clear ‘no food, drink or dirty shoes’ rule, or provide car bins.

3. Changing the music 

Who doesn’t like to listen to music or the radio during long journeys? If you’ve got a preferred radio station or favourite playlist that you want to listen to while driving, there’s nothing more infuriating than someone changing it or insisting on being in control of the music without permission. Humming along or singing badly to songs is another one of the most annoying passenger habits.

4. Poor Directions

One of the benefits of having someone travelling in the car with you is that they can help with directions. However, this passenger responsibility can sometimes go horribly wrong. Confusion over the best route to take has been identified as one of the main causes of in-car quarrels between drivers and passengers. Whether it’s because they’ve failed to pay attention, read the map or sat nav incorrectly or simply guessed the route, poor navigation is guaranteed to rub the driver up the wrong way.

5. Changing the temperature

Similar to those who take it upon themselves to take charge of the music, unwanted temperature changes are another all-too-familiar annoyance. From winding down the window so the car’s freezing cold, to turning up the heating so it’s uncomfortably hot, taking control of the temperature without asking first is bound to cause tension. While it may be impossible to suit everyone’s preferences, fiddling around with the controls and windows without asking is a sure fire way to ruffle some feathers.

6. Second-hand road rage

As a driver, chances are you’ve probably experienced road rage at some point or other. However, passengers getting annoyed at other motorists on your behalf can be just as tiresome as backseat driving. Even if there’s a hazard caused by another road user, tutting, commenting or showing anger at the situation when you’re not the one behind the wheel is generally unhelpful and unwelcome to those who are driving. In fact, it can actually be more off-putting and stressful for the person in the hot seat and could increase the risk of them losing control of the vehicle.

7. Distracting phone habits

Just because road users are prohibited from using their mobiles while driving, this doesn’t mean someone else’s phone habits can’t be just as distracting. Loud phone conversations can be irritating at the best of times, and in the car is no exception. And while we’re on the topic of phone etiquette, buzzing notifications or message sounds, and passengers who insist on taking pictures of themselves or the driver, can be just as grating, not to mention dangerous.

8. Not contributing to costs

There’s no getting around the fact that cars are expensive to run. If you’re always the designated driver and regularly transport people around, whether it’s for long or short journeys, the running costs can rapidly shoot up. While perhaps not so much of an issue for family members or close friends, or for the occasional lift here and there, passengers who don’t offer to contribute to parking or petrol costs can be a real bugbear. Most drivers expect other people to at least offer to chip in with expenses, even if you choose not to accept the contribution. The fact that they have been polite enough to offer is usually enough to prevent any resentment or aggravation from building up.


These are just some examples of annoying passenger habits that drivers face on a regular basis. While many of them may seem trivial, diverting the driver’s attention away from the road can increase the risk of collisions and near-misses and have serious consequences. However, by setting some ground rules and by being direct from the get-go, you may be able to stave off at least a few of these irksome behaviours and enjoy a far more pleasant and safe journey.

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