Backseat Blab No More: How to Show a Backseat Driver Who’s Boss

Lyft driver and Lyft passengers
Lyft driver and Lyft passengers | Source:

Back seat drivers are the pigeons of the automotive world. They don’t really do much more than get in the way, glare at you for no reason, and then shit all over your prized possession with a profane stream of vitriol that is commonly referred to as “complaining.” While these people think they are helping the situation by critiquing your driving skills, and any driving routes, in all actuality they are doing little more than piss you off.

After some thought we realized that even though you may want to kick your aunt to the curb and tell her to find her own damn ride home after she calls your Gremlin a gerbil for the hundredth time, you really don’t have the ability to do so. Laugh all you want, but for millions of Americans every day, it’s sure as hell a distraction you don’t need during rush hour.

So what do you do when the person in the back seat continues to bitch about every minute detail, and complains about every curve and route choice with the snide animosity of a judge in one of those horrid live cooking specials? While most people will just opt for the “silent treatment approach,” we tend to be a little more creative around here, and feel that you might want to fight fire with fire.

In an effort to keep a full-blown fist fight from breaking out between you and your fellow voyagers, these next six tips offer some cheeky ways to passive-aggressively strike back at your foe in the passenger seat, and are ranked from mild to wild. So take comfort in knowing that no matter what happens you have all the power, and that your word is bond when the rubber hits the road.

1. The sinister smile

Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad | Source: Warner Bros.

This is the best way to follow-up the “silent treatment approach” if it doesn’t work right off the bat, because although you may appear to be brooding, your passengers still have no idea what’s on your mind. Just turn around for a brief moment at a stoplight, appearing as expressionless as humanly possible, then allow the most sinister smile imaginable to draw itself across your face. Then turn back around, snicker and mumble to yourself, and then return to your silent, expressionless self for the strongest effect.

2. The real-time turnaround

Crisis ahead warning sign
Crisis ahead warning sign | Source: iStock

Remember when your dad would threaten to “turn this damn car around” if you meddling kids didn’t pipe down in the backseat and stop beating the shit out of one another with Nerf swords? Well you too have that power now. We just recommend acting upon it without warning if the complaining continues. Maybe throw in a brief exclamation as well — something along the lines of, “That’s it! A courteous driver can only take so much!”

3. Random e-brake tests

Kia Forte5 SX
Kia Forte5 SX | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

This may be tough for those of you who have cars equipped with electronic e-brakes, but those of you who still sport the old handbrake, know that you have a secret weapon at your disposal. While randomly stomping on the brakes if no one is directly behind you will successfully deter bitchiness in the back seat, the full blown powerslide occasionally demands to be unleashed. For those of you who have a rear-wheel drive manual automobile, please reference the feature we did on learning how to drift with pro driver Odi Bakchis, as it will surely give any gripers a reason to want to walk the rest of the way home.

4. Give ’em the old Michael Bolton treatment

Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

If you aren’t familiar with Michael Bolton, or any of his music, you might want to first rewatch the classic 1999 comedy Office Space, and then listen to a couple of his top tracks. This way you can prepare your lungs for the most atrocious butchering of the man’s most prized material, thus mortifying anyone in your car to the point where they cannot speak.

5. The enraged taxi driver experience

Robert DeNiro
Robert DeNiro | Source: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Escalating things to a level that few have the gonads or ovaries to attempt can be both a frightening and incredibly rewarding experience, and nothing says “sit down, and shut up” quite like you suddenly acting like an enraged cab driver with a strong foreign accent. Just pretend that the vehicle’s occupants are just a fair that’s become too much to bare and if their griping continues pull over to the side of the road, turn around, and say something about how in your home country no one insults the driver’s skills, especially when they’re behind the wheel.

6. Offer to unleash your inner Evel Knievel

Evel Knievel jumping cars
Evel Knievel jumping cars | Source:

Our final tip is about as extreme as it gets, and while we don’t condone any form of illegal or dangerous action while behind the wheel, sometimes you have to make a genuine threat and then act like you’re going to do it in order to gain a little silence. We feel that pulling a helmet out from the passenger side floorboard and saying something in a concerned tone like “Are you sure you’re buckled in properly and have adequate life insurance?” will get the most direct results.