As passengers, we’ve all had the experience of being uncomfortable when another person is driving us. It could be our spouse, partner, grown child, friend, or parent. It could be someone we’ve known all our lives or a stranger we barely met a few minutes ago. Regardless of who or what the situation is, we […]
As passengers, we’ve all had the experience of being uncomfortable when another person is driving us. It could be our spouse, partner, grown child, friend, or parent. It could be someone we’ve known all our lives or a stranger we barely met a few minutes ago. Regardless of who or what the situation is, we all deserve to be safe—both us and others.
One very difficult scenario is when you’re riding with an angry driver, and their rage is affecting their judgment behind the wheel. They might be driving faster, steering jerkily, or tailgating. As a passenger, it’s critical that you try to defuse the tension, or at least not make it worse.
Several years ago, I was a passenger riding up front with my son, who was driving in downtown Madison, and his girlfriend was in the backseat. I wanted to turn up the heat on my side of the car, and this set him off for whatever reason. He just exploded with fury. Taken aback, I stared at him dumbfounded since my innocent desire for more warmth was in no way commensurate with his level of rage.
His girlfriend and I started protesting, which only angered him more. Most alarming was his repeatedly turning sideways to look back at his girlfriend (therefore taking his eyes off the busy road) while utterly screaming at both of us. Adrenalin was taking over, jeopardizing his judgment and thinking.
I realized what was happening and quickly shouted at her to stop arguing with him before he did something rash. At this point, it didn’t matter who was wrong or right—we all stood to lose, as well as any innocent driver or pedestrian who might cross paths with us.
The girlfriend got the memo, and instantly we all fell silent. The extreme emotion of the moment passed, and the air became heavy with tension and sullenness. But at least it was better than having him potentially take out his anger with a 5,000-pound vehicle.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to act—especially if children and other passengers are in the car.
Read more tips on National Passenger Safety Week’s website. Remember, you have power as a passenger—use it wisely.