Many of us have experienced it. We’re in the passenger seat of someone else’s car and they’re breaking every rule in the book. They’re speeding, tailgating, texting, goofing off, switching lanes without signaling and you feel like you’re going to crash and die at any moment. Whether you’re an adult or teenager who has taken drivers education courses or a child who knows little about driving, you can tell when the habits of your driver are dangerous. If you are struggling with knowing the right way to tell your driver to be more careful on the road, then here are a few tactics that can help you.
- Tell It Like It Is: Tell them flat out that you get really nervous when people text and drive or tailgate other cars, etc. Watch how the person reacts to your criticism. If they do stop doing those things that worry you or at least try to stop, tell them thank you and that you really, really appreciate them trying to drive more safely. If the person happens to go back to their old habits then ask them if they would like to be reminded when they do those things that make you nervous. This could be really effective because no one likes being nagged about their mistakes so they’ll try harder to stop.
- Indirect Hinting: Offer to text for them, drive for them, etc. Ask if they are feeling rushed and what would help them relax a little more on the road. You can also say things like, “Oh, is that a cop?” or “I’ve been seeing a lot of cops out today, guess we should put our phones away.” You could also point out things that the driver almost hits and ask, “Did you see that car slowing down?” or “Did you see that person trying to cross the road?” Try to show that you’re on the driver’s side; that you’re just looking out for them and not trying to make them feel bad.
- Pointing Out Other Drivers: Point out other bad drivers on the road who are doing the same things that your driver is doing. Then come up with a story why they must be doing that. Reward points to the other drivers for their actions. Not only might this help your driver avoid “getting points” themselves, it may also help them want to be more aware of their surroundings as they drive.
- Group Intervention: If you have a group of friends or family that all agree on the hazardous driving of one person, a good idea would be to plan an interference for them. Together as group, take away the car keys of the driver and explain everybody’s concerns about the person’s driving. Agree as a group that none of you will be riding in the same car as this person until they learn to be more careful on the road. Be sure that when you do this you do it out of kindness and concern for the driver.
- Worst Case Scenario: If worst comes to worst and your driver continues to make illegal driving errors or mocks you for worrying about it, then it’s time to stop accepting rides from them. Avoid arguing with the person while they are driving and get out of the car as soon as you can. If you feel brave enough, when you are not in the car go ahead and tell the driver that you are cutting them off. Shame actually has big effect on people and can sometimes be a life-changer. If you don’t feel comfortable saying that then just say “no thank you” or “my parents don’t feel comfortable having me ride with people who do A, B and C on the road.”
You should never have to feel trapped inside a car with a reckless driver. Whether the bad driver is a friend, sibling, parent, spouse, or acquaintance, don’t feel obligated to ride with them. You have the freedom to choose your drivers and experience a stress-free ride. Every person responds to criticism differently, so think things through when approaching someone about their driving. Remember that your true friends and loving family members would never purposefully try to harm you. They are the ones that will change because they do care about their safety and the safety of others.