My partner is a terrible driver. How do I help?
February 14, 2020 1:36 PM   Subscribe

What can I do to help her gain confidence and break bad habits, without being an annoying backseat driver?

She got her license at age 16, but was basically prohibited from having a car until college, so she rarely drove. She didn't drive on the highway until she was 23. Thankfully she's never been in an accident, but there have been a number of near-misses.

Anyhow, we're in our mid-30s, married, and have kids. We live a single-car lifestyle, so she's frequently schlepping the kids around, and although I vastly prefer to drive, I often ride shotgun. Try as I might, when she's driving, I simply cannot stop myself from being a backseat driver. I'll do things like encourage her to drive with more confidence (such as when she's merging onto a highway), remind her not to wave others through an intersection, and tell her to think a few steps ahead before making a move (usually after she does something unsafe). As you might imagine, it drives her bananas, and we spend many car rides in silence because I've offended her. It drives me bananas that I can't shut up in those moments, but I want her to drive more safely.

There's definitely an aspect of my delivery that I know I need to work on (being patient and gentle, rather than being exasperated and scolding her), but outside of that, I really need to help her break some of her bad driving habits. What are some concrete things I can start to do when I ride shotgun?
posted by denriguez to Human Relations (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's definitely an aspect of my delivery that I know I need to work on (being patient and gentle, rather than being exasperated and scolding her), but outside of that, I really need to help her break some of her bad driving habits. What are some concrete things I can start to do when I ride shotgun?

I'm not a super-confident driver, and it would be the opposite of productive if my husband tried to "break me of bad driving habits".

*If* your wife agrees that she could use more driving training, then I would suggest purchasing driving lessons. Maybe with the idea of learning more defensive driving techniques. From someone other than you.

Honestly, I'm feeling aggressively patronized just by your question, and I'm not your wife. I can't imagine this going well.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:44 PM on February 14 [67 favorites]

Look, safety is great, but if your wife has gotten to her mid 30s with no accidents she is doing fine. You are not King of Driving Safety. You are not required to improve her. Correcting the driving of someone who is not your teenager leaning to drive or hasn't specifically asked you for instruction is disrespectful. Please don't be disrespectful to your partner in front of your kids.
posted by jeoc at 1:50 PM on February 14 [28 favorites]

I'll do things like encourage her to drive with more confidence (such as when she's merging onto a highway), remind her not to wave others through an intersection, and tell her to think a few steps ahead before making a move (usually after she does something unsafe)

I would HATE it when you did any one of those. I would feel very talked down to if my husband were talking to me like that. Seconding professional lessons if our wife wants them.
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:51 PM on February 14 [10 favorites]

Defensive driving classes for ANYONE is a good idea.

I consider hesitance at intersections and ESPECIALLY on entry to freeways extremely dangerous. Understanding why that is bad is crucial. But clearly you can't be involved in teaching her because it is not working (also, who says you're better? You may just be bad in ways that drive her equally nuts).

So why not have you BOTH have defensive driving instruction. You may not feel you need it, but if you can convince yourself you do, she may be more open to it because it is not an attack and, frankly, it will likely make both of you safer for your kids and a better example to them as to how to drive when that comes about. People generally just have little or a warped clue just how far ahead they should be thinking and as cars and roads make driving easier the disparity between what you need to be planning for and what you usually HAVE to plan for is massive.

Anyone that considers themselves a non-confident driver should do it. Because most of the lack of confidence is through not knowing what you're not considering. With some kind of framework as to what you *should* be focussing on, then the nagging self-doubt that you're missing something will fade. Thus confidence is built.
posted by Brockles at 1:52 PM on February 14 [36 favorites]

As someone who learned to drive as an adult: defensive driving classes are probably a good idea. I just couldn’t work well with my husband on learning driving. I love him very much but having him teach me how to drive, which was something that made me very anxious was a terrible, terrible idea.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:52 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

This may not be possible given car seats, but my mother used to be such an overly nervous passenger when riding in the front seat of the car that she made me a more nervous driver. It was a spiral, since my driving got worse so her reactions got worse so my driving got worse. Her nerves mostly manifested as sharp intakes of breath or bracing against the dash when she saw something she didn't like. So she rode in the back seat. It meant she had less visibility to what I was doing and what else was happening on the roads so she was less nervous and it made it so that I couldn't see whatever nervous moments she was having. In your case, it would help you not to see the bad driving and make it harder for you to lecture her.

It drives me bananas that I can't shut up in those moments, but I want her to drive more safely.

You actually can, you know. Unless you're talking about involuntary sounds like gasping, you don't have to make words come out of your face. You may not have found the personal will to shut up about those things, but framing it like an impossibility is simply untrue.

but outside of that, I really need to help her break some of her bad driving habits.

Has she asked you to help or is this something you've decided to take on? If you're already in a hostile, fighting situation, and she hasn't explicitly asked you to help of her own volition (ie, not been guilted into agreeing with your suggestion that you should help her) there is no change to your delivery that is going to allow her to gracefully accept you lecturing her about her driving. If this is a problem that she agrees is serious and requires correction the first and best step is probably to get her professional driving lessons so that someone else can help her learn those skills. Someone else she doesn't have bad driving history with and who is already practiced at not responding poorly in the moment.

If she both thinks she needs help and would like you to be the one to help her, try not having these discussions in the car at all. After a trip, when things are calm, ask her if there were moments in the drive that she found particularly nerve-wracking or difficult to deal with. Talk about what happened, and how it went poorly and what it would look like if it went better. Look up the locations on Google maps if location or road layout matters to the problem and talk the situation through while visualizing it on the map.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:54 PM on February 14 [20 favorites]

I can't see how telling someone to drive with more confidence can help. And I don't think the issue is being patient and gentle, either. It's being helpful.

There are things that a passenger can do that are useful to the driver. If my wife is merging onto a freeway I can, and will, look behind us and comment something like "you're clear". Note that I'm not telling her to do anything - I'm giving her a piece of information that she can use.

Hesitation at intersections is bad (be decisive), but there's nothing wrong with waving people through, IMHO. The key is to make your intentions clear.

My advice to you is either do more of the driving or, if that's not an option, get a book and read while she drives, so you don't feel the need to comment.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:54 PM on February 14 [6 favorites]

One thing to keep in mind is that giving safe-driving advice while the other person is actually driving, is VERY likely to actually make them a LESS safe driver. Anything that makes the driver second guess what they're doing, and can't be immediately acted upon (telling them to stop right now to avoid someone is totally fine and can be acted upon) is going to confuse the driver in the moment and cause them to make more mistakes. So by giving that advice you are not only making things uncomfortable, you are more likely to cause an accident!

I also second everyone else in saying that there is absolutely no chance that YOU will be able to help her become a better driver, because there's already history there. So you need to stop right now trying to give her advice directly unless she asks for it.

If the defensive driving course isn't an option, you could try to enlist a neutral third party like a friend who can impartially offer advice. But only do this if your partner is actually interested in the advice and trusts the friend. You can phrase it as "I will shut up about this thing if you talk with Bob about driving" and then you need to actually shut up.
posted by JZig at 2:07 PM on February 14 [13 favorites]

> Try as I might, when she's driving, I simply cannot stop myself from being a backseat driver.

And she still allows you in the car when she's driving?? She hasn't yet left you somewhere to find your own way home???

Wow. She's a better person than I would be.

But, y'know, I'm pretty sure that you find it possible to stop yourself from saying the cutting, snarky comment that's on the tip of your tongue to the person who issues your paycheck. You probably manage to keep yourself from asking the slow, elderly person in front of you on the supermarket line why they're not dead yet. I'm certain that there are all kinds of situations in which you actively censor yourself, every single day. I'm thinking that if you try, if you really try, you can stop criticizing a person you love, while they are engaged in an act in which - should they become flustered or perturbed by your words - your criticism could actively cause them to make a mistake that could harm you both.
posted by WaywardPlane at 2:07 PM on February 14 [29 favorites]

Fun fact: car is the most common cause of death for both of you right now, if you live in the USA.

Plenty of people never have an accident until their 30s, when they do.

So I’m not really feeling all the dismissive answers saying she’s fine and you’re a jerk.

I do agree you are probably not the best person to personally help her improve by direct instruction. Lessons are probably best. One thing you might consider is driving more with her as passenger, modeling more defensive and safety-oriented behavior and sort of narrating your actions and decisions as a play-by-play. But this only will help if you offer and she enthusiastically accepts, because their is a weird marital dynamic going on here too.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:09 PM on February 14 [19 favorites]

This is going to sound harsh and I apologise in advance. I don’t intend it to be so, but rather I’m attempting to help untangle the thoughts, emotions and responsibilities in this dynamic.

From what you’ve said, the only problem it sounds like she has is that you’re pissing her off while she’s driving. It sounds like the main problem you have is that you want to change her behaviour so that you can feel better when you’re in the car with her. Does she want to take action here? And if so, what for? So that you feel better? None of the answers to these are likely going to end up successfully resolving the problems. This is mainly because you need to accept her driving and how she feels about it. And take responsibility for your feelings when you’re in the car with her. The anxiety you feel is not her fault, she does not cause it. Your thoughts do. What thoughts arise when you’re driving with her? How do they relate to the resulting emotions you feel?

I’m not denying or minimising your feelings. But you do need to own them completely and not make them contingent on her behaviour. Practice recognising how you feel when you’re in the car, name the emotions and work on managing them better when you’re in the car. Then communicate them later, with the aim of sharing your experience and not of using them to coerce a change in her behaviour. And keep your thoughts about what she should DO to yourself. It’s not helpful while she’s driving and it’s not productive outside the car either.

All of this may lead to a more productive conversation about ways to resolve the issues, free of blaming, shame or attempts to tell people how to act, think or feel (this goes both ways). It’s not guaranteed to work obviously, but it sets a much more favourable setting for positive change.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:22 PM on February 14 [5 favorites]

How she drives with you in the car and how she drives alone are two different things. I find that on my own I’m very competent (99 percent of the time) but since I’m not used to having a passenger normally who is trying to speak to me, then I have trouble. So you’re not necessarily the best judge of her driving.

ALSO, my husband thinks he’s a better driver than me. I’m not sure why. I believe it’s because I drive cautiously and I’m not in a rush. He regularly runs red lights and gets annoyed with slow drivers. He never stops giving out about getting stuck behind a tractor or whatever. Who is completely stressed by the most insignificant of drives???? Who has points on his license????

Who is cruising, nonplussed??? Who is the most chilled of the chilled when her kids are screaming their heads off in the middle of a major TRAFFIC JAM? Who can merge 99.999999999 percent of the time? Me :-)

I find it funny because I have 20 plus years driving experience, and lots of that in Los Angeles which is, like, the driving capital of the world. Yes, i had to learn a bit to drive in the uk with their tiny roads, but the German autobahn was no problem. The best lesson I ever learned was not to be in a hurry and not to stress and to ignore my passenger.

My point is: if she is accident free up until now then she’s doing just perfect and leave her alone. A lot of being a good driver is plain Years of experience. Just time and experience. You can’t speed it up.
posted by catspajammies at 2:26 PM on February 14 [10 favorites]

Take defensive driving classes together and let a professional teach her what she needs to know & hey you might learn something too. Phrase it as a fun thing for you both to do so you can be safer drivers, it is not your place to teach her. Just remember the vast majority of people overestimate just how good a driver they are, so the classes won't do you any harm either.
posted by wwax at 2:34 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]

I suspect reframing this whole thing as "I am frightened when my wife is driving" could help you find some more productive ways to deal with it. To start with, you could say that to her rather than skipping to the part where you try to fix her. Perhaps together you can find a solution.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:35 PM on February 14 [5 favorites]

What can I do to help her gain confidence and break bad habits, without being an annoying backseat driver?

I do not think you can do this. You are already an annoying backseat driver. She isn't going to suddenly start perceiving you otherwise, no matter how your delivery might alter.

I'm not trying to be flippant about whether or not she is actually a safe driver, because I don't know if the absence of accidents actually confirms that. I just don't think this is something you should be trying to fix while she is driving. This is a conversation for when you are not in the car and one that ideally ends with a solution where someone else is helping her gain confidence and skill OR you accept that her driving is actually fine and stifle your impulse to "correct" ... or somewhere in between.
posted by sm1tten at 2:38 PM on February 14 [7 favorites]

It drives me bananas that I can't shut up in those moments...

yes you can. this is what you need to work on.
posted by hollisimo at 2:48 PM on February 14 [9 favorites]

> although I vastly prefer to drive, I often ride shotgun

Why are you riding shotgun if you prefer to drive? Does she prefer her driving over yours? Are you doing something that is preventing you from driving?

When I'm riding with someone the *only* time I speak up is if there is actual imminent danger or if I'm providing information that they can use to drive, e.g. "It's clear this way".

If I'm coming up on area where I myself would slow down because if it's a known speed trap, for example, I wouldn't provide the person with explicit direction, e.g. "You should slow down", but would provide them with information, e.g. "There's usually a cop up here". Something like that.

Otherwise I put my seatbelt on, watch the ride and keep my thoughts to myself.
posted by dgeiser13 at 3:04 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]

As a driver, the only things that I want to hear from my shotgun are: navigation help if I ask for it, blindspot checking if I ask for it, notice of emergency vehicle approaching from a direction I cannot see, or if I've left the turn signal on after the turn. Maybe you could ask her to tell you what she would appreciate help with. Other than that, cultivate a relaxed enjoyment of watching the scenery or entertaining the kids, or looking at your phone. And never raise your voice. Be helpful, not critical.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:32 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]

Defensive driving course for the both of you, taken separately. Check in with your auto insurance company, as such courses can reduce your premiums (example).

What are some concrete things I can start to do when I ride shotgun?
In the meantime, put in earbuds and listen to audio books/podcasts/whatever when you're in the passenger seat. Close your eyes. Nap.

[Hey, it's good that you realize your current approach isn't getting the result you want; that your actions may actually serve to reduce your wife's driving confidence. Moreover, this isn't the finest example of marital dynamics for your kids to see when they're also in the car. Tell your wife that it's not just her driving skill, that you now recognize that you're also the type of highly reactive passenger ("I simply cannot stop myself") worsening the problem -- despite your very best intentions -- and simply ask to do more of the driving while you work on it. And while you both get additional safe-driver training, so you can both feel more confident.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:11 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

You know what makes my driving worse? Someone in the car second guessing everything I’m doing, interrupting my train of thought telling me what to do while I’m trying to merge, trying to be ‘helpful’ while not having the visibility I have of other cars and otherwise distracting me. You’re going to either cause an accident by having your instructions conflict with her own judgement, or cause an accident to yourself because, my god, how has she not thrown you out of the car yet! Actively making her second guess her own judgement is making her driving worse. If it drives you nuts (see what I did there) here’s an idea, you can get a cab and leave her alone.
posted by Jubey at 5:48 PM on February 14 [7 favorites]

I was you the first couple years of my relationship with my wife. I finally just shut the hell up. I now quietly let her drive past exits, sit at green lights, whatever, and I have gained the confidence, through experience, that she’s not going to kill me. We get there.

It is the way of peace & harmony.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:24 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]

Y'know, stopping at an intersection and trying to wave other's through instead of taking rules-of-the-road right of way just confuses people and will lead to both being confused for different reasons and crashing into each other....

I'll n'th the defensive driving course, thing they should have learned when they were 16 and got their learner's permit and had a car and drove around but they haven't. That's the bit point... they haven't.

Yes you do drive like everybody else on the road it trying to kill you. That doesn't mean you don't know how to merge or pass or give or take right of way.

That sorta comes from someone who was too young to take driver-ed in school and had to take private driving lessons. I can only imagine riding with someone who's basically a teenager because they haven't driven for a decade.

But also, maybe you're not the one to be doing this. Hand it off to a professional driving teacher of some sort and see what happens. She might come out of it a better driver than you are.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:24 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]

Look, safety is great, but if your wife has gotten to her mid 30s with no accidents she is doing fine.

Respectfully, NO NO NO NO. Please, no. This is not an acceptable attitude toward anything that puts you with the ability to kill other people by moving very large fast objects. Driving is incredibly dangerous even though we like to ignore that statistic day to day.

Anyway, there are defensive driving classes and I recommend you both attend.

So many people in this thread do not realize the severe threat that driving represents to them. I drive every day. Fuck, I'm actually working on going into amateur racing right now because I LOVE TO DRIVE and I LOVE TO DRIVE SO FAST and feel the pull of gravity between brake and acceleration. And driving on regular roads is something you should fucking respect and do well. God help us if more people are of the mind that "I've never had an accident, I must be doing it well." as they blow through yellow into red lights, don't understand yield signs in roundabouts, etc. etc. etc. etc. DRIVING. IS. DANGEROUS.

I'm sorry. This is fundamentally upsetting to me that people do not take this seriously.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:17 PM on February 14 [19 favorites]

When I was learning to drive at age 18, I had a learner's permit which meant I had to have someone in the car with me when I drove. That someone was my first husband. I don't remember what he specifically said or did while in the car with me, but he tended to be a critical person in general. And I remember I was a very nervous, tentative and not-very-good driver, which made me think I simply wasn't very good at it. I took my driver's license test before I felt really ready, and passed by the skin of my teeth.

So I was very suprised, the first time I took the car out by myself, to discover how much more relaxed and natural I felt driving without a critic in the seat next to me making me anxious and distracting me. From that point on I was perfectly fine, and I never drove with him in the passenger seat again (until he tried to teach me to drive stick, whereupon again I was "terrible" at it... until my dad took me out one day to practice and I was completely fine. He actually told off my husband when we got back home.)

So what I'm saying is, you in the passenger seat is likely to be part of the problem. A solution might be for you to always drive when you travel together. Not because she is a bad driver, but because you are a bad passenger!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:31 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]

This thread is full of righteous opinions that, in contexts that don't involve safety, I would be behind 100%.
I do agree that you are not in a good position to judge your wife's driving skills, and that it is very likely that you have your own shortcomings. I also agree that defensive driving classes for both of you (and all drivers) should be a good starting point.
Also agreed: comments while driving will cause distraction. Pick a calm, relaxed, safe time to discuss this in a non judgmental way.

I disagree with the attitude that no collisions (yet) means that everything is okay.

Speaking as a year round bicycle commuter, I want the magic ability to play third person video of every driver's near misses back to them in their sleep every night forever.

Failing that, a road test that fewer than 10% of current drivers would pass without significant improvement in skills, and the corresponding investment in public transit to compensate, as long as I'm asking for the impossible.
posted by Acari at 1:03 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]

My husband is the most relaxing, empowering person to drive with. I am not a confident driver so when a drive is lengthy, complicated, and scary, I often insist he come with me. I drive so much better with him there.

Because he never ever ever utters a peep about my driving, and when I screw up by missing an exit or whatever, shrugs and says its not a big deal.

It is such a noticeable contrast to other people in my life, many of whom I refuse to drive with because they stress me out so much and thereby make my driving much worse. I asked him about it because I was so impressed.

He said, "my parents taught me that just because you have something to say doesn't mean it's helpful to say it".

Anyway, things that have helped my driving:

Buying all the sensors and enhancements. Rear view camera. Proximity detector to other cars. Lane drifting sensor. Essentially all of these can simply be installed into an existing car. I view them like I view phone cases - a non-negotiable protective addon (may also lower insurance premiums, check). I am a much better driver with them there assisting.
posted by Cozybee at 11:40 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]

Every single day I see near misses where only by the grace of other drivers being 100% alert and reacting accordingly was an accident avoided. Having a clean driving slate on paper has absolutely no bearing on how well or how safely someone drives. Lack of confidence, hesitation, panicking or freezing up, and unpredictability in general, are all hallmarks of a dangerous driver imo.

My best friend, bless her, has never had an accident, but she is also one of the worst drivers I’ve ever ridden with. She has extremely poor hand-eye coordination and reflexes, and panics at the slightest. She is not a confident driver, nor should she feel confident about her driving skills. No exaggeration, I’ve seen her start pumping the brakes a full 20 seconds before reaching an intersection, green light aglow, eventually reaching the intersection when the light had by then gone stale yellow, and finally blowing through the red light. Being in a car piloted by her is so scary that I just don’t ever. Thankfully she prefers to walk or take transit to work, and she is happy to let her husband drive when they travel as a family.

OP, obviously you can’t refuse to get in a car with your wife and I doubt it would go over well if you demanded to always drive. And having kids in the safety equation, I completely understand why you are so anxious about it. I agree with the above comments that say, valid as your concerns are, that these lessons are not effective coming from you. I also agree with the above comments that suggest professionally taught defensive driving lessons for both of you, as all of us can benefit from learning and improving our driving. Best of luck, I hope improvements can be made.
posted by keep it under cover at 2:42 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]

I am not a good driver. I've been driving since I was thirteen, have had one big accident (car write off, I was injured, other party similar but less bad). I was always open about it and once my ex (a very good driver, who has had more smaller accidents than me) gave me a list of things I do wrong. He didn't make it about me and my emotions, he didn't do it while I was driving, and it was about habits i had that weren't good. We talked about it recently and he was appalled at himself for it but I did find it useful because it wasn't amorphous 'have confidence' or advice to be more aggressive about others, it was concrete thing I was doing. Mostly habits from driving very casually in rural environs as a learner, and things I could reasonably easily change (stop driving one handed/leaving one hand on the gearstick, leave it in gear at lights, turn wipers off quicker because they are a distraction).

Distill your advice to concrete and actionable things, don't bring them up while she is driving, don't give her advice about uncontrollable factors like other drivers.

For all that I am a bad driver, both he and my dad will trust me to drive their cars and drive them around, and rarely give me shit about anything to do with driving. Primarily because I do take their advice and they don't take my differing style as 'bad' as much as they focus on actual bad habits. Me merging differently to their preference is not actually bad, it's different. If I were perpetually merging at twenty under the limit regardless of context that would be bad.

Another aspect - everyone makes mistakes. With driving the general mindset is "I make mistakes, they are bad drivers" rather than accepting we all make mistakes sometimes. Merges are sometimes awful. Intersections too. But pointing out every single mistake every single time does not correspond with 'be more confident when merging' for example.

And if you cannot think of actual concrete things she is doing wrong, chances are you are likely being unfair and expecting her to drive just like you. And a judgey jerk in the front seat is a major distraction and not at all helping her drive safely.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:18 PM on February 16

You may be both right and wrong. Right in that your wife is objectively a poor driver and that measurably adds up to potential disaster for her and you. Wrong in that your critiques while driving only adds to the tension that is natural to driving and she understandably rejects it as interfering with her ability to focus on what she's doing.
When I'm driving my sometimes co-pilot doesn't really aid in driving. They are not watching for upcoming turns or judging things appropriately for being in traffic. They might shout out to turn when it's physically impossible to make that turn safely, or it's too late to make a lane change. This adds to the tension of being in a potentially dangerous situation if you aren't totally focused on your driving, so much so that I've at times forcefully told them to cease talking, that's it's harming my ability to be a good driver. You can only do one thing at a time really well and if steering the car safely is all I can do, that's it. Nothing else is important.
Maybe you should volunteer to pay for a driver skills course. If you are in the car, you can offer suggestions well in advance of a situation developing, but when they need their entire focus on driving, you should not speak or interfere with their concentration. It will only make things worse.
posted by diode at 6:56 PM on February 16

Having a clean driving slate on paper has absolutely no bearing on how well or how safely someone drives.

The actuarial tables the insurance companies use give a different conclusion. People who have never had an accident pay substantially lower premiums because they are good bets to continue not having accidents.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:38 PM on February 16

People who have never had an accident pay substantially lower premiums because they are good bets to continue not having accidents.

I think that is a false conclusion. These people are likely to have LESS accidents, because the average per year driven is already lower at that point and that is the reason for the discount. This is also why premiums go up when you DO have an accident. There is no statistics that at all support any person NOT having an accident - if you drive more your chances become higher and are only affected, not controlled, by skill or methodology. The greatest driver in the world can be tee-boned by someone running a red light or rear ended by someone, or find unexpected ice or a component failure or fall asleep. Or make a mistake.
posted by Brockles at 8:59 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I tend to be a bit of a nervous passenger myself.

It absolutely does not enhance your safety as a passenger in any way to be distracting the driver by berating them about ways they could have done things differently, twitching or looking tense about how they are driving etc. Whether or not her driving can be improved, it certainly does not help her to drive more safely that you are engaging with her in this way while she is driving.

There's an app that can help you with this.

I don't know what that app is, you'll have to find it yourself. Find a phone game or a reading app or something that appeals to you and captures your attention. a fun and exciting app that you will look forward to using. You're only going to let yourself use this when you are a passenger. Get in the car, buckle up, and get busy with staring at your phone.

This will increase your safety in the car because you won't be distracting the driver like you are now.

Your wife will quickly become a more confident driver once you shut up and stop second-guessing her every move.
posted by yohko at 1:00 PM on February 20

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