If you turn on the news or login to Twitter, you may be overwhelmed by the crushing sense that our country is more divided than ever...
So let's celebrate the one thing we can ALL agree on: the driver always picks the music.
Those of you who are barely old enough to vote probably haven't spent much time in the car with anyone but your parents. It's true! Here's a not-so-fun fact: today's teenagers don't get driver's licenses or leave the house without their parents the way previous generations did.
The dip in teenage independence coincides with the release if the iPhone -- not to mention helicopter parenting trends.
In fact, according to Jean Twenge, author of iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--And Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, "Today's 12th-graders look like the last generation's 8th-graders."
Which is why they might not yet know this simple, but universally agreed-upon, rule.
So I will explain, in careful detail, the rules and responsibilities of everyone in the car.
The driver's job is to keep everyone in the car alive.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the driver stay alert, awake, and entertained.
Moreover, the driver, unlike anyone in any of the passenger positions, can't read a book, check her email, message his friends, play games, while driving.
The driver's only recourse, then, is to pick music that he or she totally loves.
"But but but but," people with limited driving experience may be sputtering, "Isn't that distracted driving?"
No. Definitely not.
Most cars today have incredible built-in functionality to allow drivers to easily pick and change songs without taking their eyes off the road. Even my 2009 Ford Escape has buttons on the wheel that let me skip songs -- as well as voice recognition software that allows me to give voice commends, like, "Play songs by the Spice Girls," or, "Play 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' by Crosby, Stills and Nash."
And if your car lacks these features?
The front seat passenger:
You may think you're in the best seat in the house. In some ways, you are. You get the best views of the road, are least likely to get carsick, and don't have anyone's lives in your hands (so you think)...
But the reality is, if you're in the passenger seat, you have the least esteemed position in the vehicle.
If you're in the front seat, you are basically the driver's bitch.
Distracted driving kills. Falling asleep at the wheel kills. Hitting deer at high -- and even low -- speeds kills.
If you're in the passenger seat, it is your job not only to navigate, but also to make sure the driver can drive their best. Among your potential responsibilities:
It's just common courtesy -- and sense. Would you rather the driver complete these tasks while whipping up and down Highway 17?
One last thing about being the passenger -- at least on a longer road trip:
You don't sleep.
The person driving isn't your chauffeur. They're your friend or family member. Their job isn't to drive you. They are driving as a kindness. The kindness you show in return is showing the respect to stay awake with them.
This way, you can help out with navigating, changing the music or audiobooks, or just having fun and friendly conversation.
On a super long drive, you and the driver might come to an agreement -- "I'll drive the first four hours while you sleep, then we'll trade at 1am." There are exceptions to every rule. But it's really not fair to the driver is everyone in the car just passes out and expects to wake up safely in their destination.
Side bar: How to Be a Good Navigator
Many otherwise smart people are terrible navigators. So, real quick, here are a few tips on how not to suck at navigating:
The ideal setup, though, is to have a mount for your phone, so that the driver doesn't have to rely on the passenger so much. I prefer ones like the MPow Long Arm Car Mount, rather than ones without the arm. It puts the map closer to your face, and allows you to adjust where exactly the GPS is pointing.
The people in the backseat.
You drew the short straw, or didn't call shotgun, or had short legs, or whatever. Now, you have the least legroom and the worst views in the vehicle...
But at lease you have minimal responsibilities.
Short of not farting or having extended phone conversations, you're basically off the hook. It's okay to doze or put your headphones in.
My only advice to you is to make sure the headrests are in place while you're in the back. Sometimes, these are removed while the seats are folded down, and the car owner forgets to put them back on when they fold the seats up again.
But if there's an accident and your headrest isn't in place, you're going to have some neck issues.
Front or back, those headrests are important.
These are contentious and divided times. But I'm glad there is one thing all Americans -- and maybe even all humans -- can agree on.
Want to know more? Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
Want to support The Happy Talent? CLICK HERE!
Or Find me on Patreon!
What's Popular on The Happy Talent:
Trending in Dating and Relationships:
What's Popular in Science:
Playfulness and Leisure Skills:
Popular in Psychology and Social Skills: