As a passenger in a vehicle, you may think that you’re off the hook from having to do any work, but you’re really a second pair of eyes and hands for the driver. Knowing how to be the best shotgun rider can help out your driver and make the ride that much more fun (and safe) for everyone.
No one likes a backseat driver, especially from the front seat. As a passenger, you usually don’t get to choose the radio station or decide if it’s too cold, although you’re welcome to make suggestions. But, you should be the one to adjust those things when the driver is ready. In the front seat, you have the unique advantage of being there to help your friend behind the wheel. Reaching for controls takes the focus off of the road and an extra pair of hands can be incredibly advantageous in a moment where a second’s glance towards the dash could cause trouble.
Your driver obviously knows the rules of the road. They wouldn’t have a set of keys if they didn’t. But things come up quickly and if it looks like your driver hasn’t seen something that you have from your vantage point, bring it up calmly. (I mention “calmly” as the way to do it because there’s nothing scarier as a driver than a passenger yelling about possible danger.) This is just as true for highway driving as it is for backing out of a parking space. With cars on either side, it can be difficult to see if anyone is coming your way and a passenger can be a second pair of eyes to be sure that your vehicle is in the clear.
If you’re heading out for a longer trip, you’re responsibilities as a shotgun rider are even greater. You might be in charge of food distribution if you stop at a drive-thru, keeping the driver (and yourself) attentive and awake, giving directions, and much more. If you’re traveling with a group, keep the rest of the car in line and protect your driver from more distraction from the crowd.
Remember that even though you’re not the one behind the wheel, you’ll want to be just as attentive to the road, conditions, and other passengers as if you were, simply to help the driver out. You’ll want to be the best front seat passenger you can be for your driver so that nothing (preventable) goes wrong on your drive.