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Motor Mouth articles 2010

Drones and leakers on the danger list

MILLIONS of British motorists prefer driving alone because they find their passengers so annoying, a new survey has revealed.

As we get older, we become far less tolerant of the irritating habits of the people who sit beside or behind us when we’re at the wheel.

An average motorist apparently takes only six minutes before his or her blood boils due to the passengers’ behaviour – and in the course of a journey, a driver gets annoyed at least three times.

For one driver in five, tempers have flared to such an extent that they have actually stopped the car and ordered their passenger to get out.

The survey was carried out by Continental Tyres, who sought the views of some 4,000 drivers aged between 17 and 65 – but I have no idea why Continental Tyres wanted to know. Annoying, isn’t it?

Anyway, they report that nearly four million UK motorists always prefer driving alone, and motorists in their fifties are much more likely to prefer going solo than those in their twenties. Perhaps those in their twenties are causing most of the irritation.

The worst culprit among the annoying brigade are the ‘backseat drivers’, although they could just as likely be in the front. They’re the jittery so-and-sos who slam their feet down on invisible brakes, thump the dashboard with their hands in panic, and make daft remarks at every manoeuvre. Both Mrs Mouth and I would like to behave like this but we don’t because we don’t like being yelled at.

Next on the irritation scale is the ‘fiddler’, who gets quickly bored and constantly twiddles radio or heater controls or other buttons. I have to confess to belonging to this category, whereas Mrs Mouth comes to the next one – the ‘sleeper’; the passenger who drops off the moment you pull away, snores throughout the whole journey and wakes only on arrival.

The researchers also refer to the ‘know-it-all’ natterer, the ‘drone’ who cannot shut up even first thing in the morning, the ‘road rage’ who embarrasses the driver with expletives and rude gestures at other motorists, the ‘airhead’ who demands the window wide open whatever the weather, the ‘sat-nag’ who barks directions and short-cut ideas, and the ‘leaker’, who needs a loo at every service station.

Now I come to think about it, Mrs Mouth fits into most of these categories.

Back to the survey. A third of the respondents admitted they avoided getting into a car with a particular person – the main offenders were drunken mates, partners and mums. Half the drivers confessed that they were also guilty of being annoying passengers at times.

A safety expert for the tyre firm which carried out the study says: “It is worrying that so many motorists are irritated to such extremes by their passengers. Driving is the time we need to be most alert, so a distraction such as an annoying passenger is likely to mean a driver losing concentration. We would suggest calmly letting the passenger know that what they are doing is distracting you, trying to calm down and most importantly, focusing on the road ahead.”

Either that or stick to a motorbike.

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