Put the brakes on nagging from back seat

Helen Wilson with her instructor
Helen Wilson with her instructor
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Women drivers are being bombarded with criticism by male back seat drivers, AA Driving School has discovered. Nearly two-thirds (58 per cent) of women drivers say men in their families nag them about their driving.

But it’s not an entirely one-way street: half of male motorists say their female relatives are guilty of being back seat drivers too.

Overall, a third of us admit to being back seat drivers (33 per cent). Edmund King, AA President, said: “Back seat driving may seem harmless but it can lead to severe confidence issues for the driver being nagged.

“Often it feels like we just can’t help ourselves, especially if we think we are being driven dangerously, but constant back seat driving can distract and frustrate a driver.

“If you really feel you are justified in your criticism, wait until you have pulled over before giving it.

“Professional driving help might also be a good way to help correct the driving that worries you, while leaving your relationship intact.”

The problem is highlighted in a new Channel 5 series, Dangerous Drivers’ School, which started last month.

The programme shows AA Driving School instructors tackling problem drivers.

Tonight’s episode shows how backseat driving can cause people to lose almost all their confidence when driving. Helen Wilson, from Halifax, has been driving for 30 years but constant criticism from twin sister Cath and the odd comment from best friend Jean and her son, made her think she really did have a driving problem.

“I have had a couple of accidents, but the biggest was when I was actually stationary and wasn’t my fault. Then Cath had a bad accident and you start to think what might happen. Then it knocks your confidence a bit, but mainly it is people telling you all the time you are a bad driver, then you start to believe it, although in my heart I didn’t think there was that much wrong with my driving.

“My son said I was a terrible driver, but he was quite happy to let me ferry him around after he’d had a drink and then he’d say he had to have a drink to get in the car with me.” Helen, 54, posted her story on the Dangerous Driving School website and was contacted by the programme.

“They asked me whether I thought I was a dangerous driver and I said that other people thought I was.”

So Helen was invited to go out with an AA Driving school instructor which was filmed for the programme. And it was then she discovered that she wasn’t as bad as everyone thought. She suddenly realised that the real problem was her over-critical friends and family.

“I was really starting to lose confidence in my driving ability and I wanted to make sure I was a safe driver.

“My session with Ashley really gave me peace of mind that I am a capable driver. Spending some time on my parking also helped because, actually, when I was feeling more confident I found it a lot easier to park. It was a really good feeling to be able to tell Jean and Cath that I was right – I can drive well. It has made me feel much more confident and relaxed about my driving.

“Now when people tell me that I am a bad driver I tell them to shut up as a professional has told be I am a good driver !”

Dangerous Drivers’ School Channel 5 on Wednesday at 8pm.

Free courses to help you drive

Nearly two-thirds of women drivers say the men in their family nag them about their driving.

Driving too fast (42 per cent), not being aware enough of what is going on (48 per cent), not braking soon enough (44 per cent) and driving too close to the vehicle in front (39 per cent) were cited as the most common causes of back seat driving.

To mark the launch of the Channel 5 series, the AA Charitable Trust has 2,000 free courses, like the ones taken on the show, available for nervous, lapsed or dangerous drivers.

Visit www.theaa.com/pupil/refreshertraining.do to register for a course.