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“Backseat Drivers” May Cause More Crashes, Studies Show

woman wearing a tweed suit and pearl necklace sitting in the back seat of a car pointing ahead past the driver

The Dangers of Backseat Drivers

One of the most overlooked distractions when behind the wheel is the “backseat driver.” These passengers are often characterized by loudly vocalizing advice to the person in the driver’s seat; sometimes, they may even assume the role of a navigator and provide turn-by-turn instructions to the person driving. However, this ‘helpfulness’ has been shown to contribute to approximately one in seven crashes.

Statistics on Passenger Interaction

A survey in the United Kingdom found that 51% of respondents report that backseat drivers are their top distraction when behind the wheel. It also found that these drivers were 60% more likely to be involved in a collision when driving with passengers.

When looking at more local data, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors reported that of "distraction-prone drivers," about 72% will always or almost always talk with their passengers while driving. The AAA Foundation also found that having three or more passengers under age 21 can nearly quadruple the risk of being in a fatal crash.

Why is Having More Passengers Dangerous?

There are a few reasons for this increased risk. The first is that passengers can be noisy and disruptive, which takes the driver’s focus away from the road. Second, passengers may cause the driver to become overloaded with sensory information, leading to what is known as inattentional blindness. This occurs when we fail to see an object that’s in our field of view because we’re not paying attention to it. Third, passengers may block the driver’s view of potential hazards.

Does This Apply to Rideshare Drivers?

Although drivers for Uber and Lyft are technically considered professionals, they are not immune to the distractions that passengers provide. One study from the University of California, Berkeley found that between recreational drivers and rideshare drivers, the latter are more likely to have higher distraction levels when interacting with passengers.

To be fair, there are many occasions when passengers in rideshares can become unruly— especially if intoxicated. Having too many passengers in the vehicle, multiple people talking loudly at once, and general disruptive behaviors may significantly contribute to a driver’s distraction. However, something being “the nature of the job” does not necessarily downplay the importance of reducing distractions behind the wheel, so rideshare drivers should remain cautious.

New York City Car Accident Attorneys

Thousands of drivers and passengers are injured or killed by distracted drivers every year. Davidoff Law helps families hold these individuals responsible for the injuries they cause. If you need legal assistance for a car accident claim, schedule a free consultation with our team today by calling (888) 211-1116.

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