The perks and rules of being a passenger in a car
May 12, 2022
We’ve all probably shouted that line once or twice before. Because let’s admit it, from the time we could ride in the front seat, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about being the co-pilot, the Goose to your Maverick, on any car ride.
If riding in the front seat is your go-to (or not), you’ll need to know how to make the best of it. You may be surprised to know that—just like at the dinner table—there is etiquette that should be followed as a passenger to make your trip enjoyable for everyone. So let’s dive into how car passengers can help a driver and highlight some of the perks of being the co-pilot.
Why riding in the front seat is so popular
Calling dibs on the front seat isn’t something new; it’s been around for a while. In fact, the little-known origin of riding as the co-pilot goes back over 160 years—according to an article byInsider. During the Wild West era of U.S. history, a guard would ride alongside a stagecoach driver to protect them from bandits.
So when we call dibs the front seat, it’s a reference to that once vital job. So how has it become so popular that it has lasted over 160 years? Why do we gravitate to being a front seat passenger?
According to a piece written by Andrew O’Hagan in the American Academy of Pediatrics, there’s an art that comes from being driven. Most of us love the idea that we don’t have to worry about the rules of the road or give our undivided attention to driving.
“People seek their freedom in different ways, of course, and some want an open top and their own foot on the gas, but for me the liberty to disengage is everything.”
As the designated navigator and music DJ to the driver, it’s important to not get too comfortable riding as a passenger. Give yourself time behind the wheel every once and a while to keep your driving skills—like knowing the ways of a four-way stop—fresh.
But if you enjoy being the co-pilot from time to time, you should know the rules and proper etiquette of being the passenger and why you’re a big influence on the driver next to you.
The rules of being a passenger
The first rule we need to address when it comes to being the co-pilot is that you should be over the age of 13 before riding in the front seat (American Academy of Pediatrics). And since the majority of the folks reading this may be over 13, we’ll outline some of the other rules of being the front seat passenger.
One helpful way car passengers can help a driver is to keep the volume down. Most of us love a good jam session and dance party, but that shouldn’t happen in the car. A low volume level can help keep the driver less distracted and focused on what’s happening on the road.
Another passenger rule to keep in mind while embarking on your road trip is to stay calm and maintain a state of zen. Stress behind the wheel doesn’t really help anyone, whether that’s you, the co-pilot, or the one behind the wheel. To help give you and the driver some help, check out these tips on how you can reduce stress while driving.
“LOOK AT THAT!” If you see something spectacular or interesting out of the window, keep your cool. Tempting the driver to also look at what you’re seeing—taking their eyes off the road—is a big no-no. Instead, snap a picture and talk about it later when you’re at your destination.
To wrap up these passenger rules, one of the more important things you can do as the passenger is to help keep the pilot free from distractions and away from their phone. That could be changing the song, giving GPS assistance, offering to answer a call or responding to a text letting them know the driver isn’t able to respond because, you guessed it, they’re driving.
All of these rules of being a passenger all have one thing in common: helping the driver—the person who’s focused on keeping themselves and you safe—stay less distracted.
Why driving less distracted is key
Being the co-pilot on any road trip can be a good time. You have the ability to snap those “from the road” pictures, switch up the playlist and even sleep. But even you, as the passenger, should be mindful of the driver and what they’re experiencing. Have they been driving for several hours? Maybe it’s time to take the wheel. Are they too cold? Consider adjusting the temperature. Are they getting phone notifications? Offer to check their inbox or messages.
Helping the pilot stay focused and free from distractions is something we’re big on at HiRoad. With our app, we recognize your good moves from behind the wheel. And those good moves (Distraction Free, Smooth Driving, Driving Patterns, Safe Speeds) can lead to safer roads and more savings. In fact, distraction-free HiRoad drivers save over 40% per month* on their car insurance bill.
Get good going by making your next co-pilot car ride experience a memorable one by showing the person driving that you’ve got what it takes to be a great passenger. Because after a good road trip, nothing sounds sweeter to a front seat passenger than,
“You can be my wingman anytime.”
– Iceman, Top Gun
The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with HiRoad®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. HiRoad is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. HiRoad makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
*Based on average monthly discounts off of base rate of top 15% of drivers that rank well for "distraction free" driving on the HiRoad app in AZ (September 2021 - April 4, 2022) and RI (March 2021 to April 2022).
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