Worst backseat drivers are spouses, moms, friends; dads are best, poll says

A new poll by says that drivers complain that their spouses are the worst backseat drivers, followed by moms and friends. The most amiable adult passengers are dads, the poll shows.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Who is your worst critic when you are driving? A new poll by says that spouses are the worst, most critical backseat drivers. Moms and friends are next in line.

“Getting there isn’t always half the fun,” said managing editor Michelle Megna. “Micromanagement from the backseat critics can turn a scenic drive into a battle of wills.”

Given the fact that the poll of 500 drivers ages 18 and older, conducted earlier this year, found children to be the least offending passengers, the poll may also be showing something else, too.


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Maybe drivers love their space and their own techniques a little too much.

“Spouses were definitely tagged as being the worst backseat drivers, but even friends were in the mix,” Megna said. “Even if it’s a stranger in the car with you, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to be annoyed.”

One couple in Santa Monica, Mark Schwartz and his wife, Debra Joy, provide an example. Outside of the Toyota Camry sedan they share, they manage to look as though they just fell in love, even after several years of marriage.

“When she’s driving, I can’t shut up about trying this route or that, about getting around someone driving too slow,” Schwartz said.

“When I’m driving, she tells me she should be entitled to combat pay,” Schwartz said, “because of the terror she has to experience with me behind the wheel.”

Among women in the poll: 34% said husbands were the worst passengers, followed by their mothers (18%) and friends (15%).


Men were even more aggravated by their wives, with 40% citing them as the worst passengers, followed by friends (17%) and mothers.

Among the least critical passengers, for men and women, were their teenage sons and daughters. Maybe they just don’t know enough about driving to be appalled by their parents’ motoring skills.

Drivers hear the most complaints about their speed, followed by unwanted navigational help, followed by their passengers just talking too darned much.

Biggest driving pet peeves: passengers who make melodramatic facial expressions or gestures; riders screaming about something the driver is already aware of; hearing complaints that they are driving too slowly.

Who are the least aggravating adults to have as passengers?

Dads, by far.

“Fathers are pegged as the worst passengers by only 5% of drivers,” according to the poll results.

The dads are probably thrilled anytime they aren’t expected to drive.



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