How to Be a Good Passenger

Help ensure a smooth trip by calmly monitoring the environment and responsibly navigating.

two women in parked car looking at mobile device
Plan your route before you start your car.
James Bueti

Safety isn't just the driver's responsibility. Passengers can play an important role in ensuring a smooth journey by avoiding harmful behavior and adopting a helpful attitude.

Don't distract the driver by unnecessarily pointing at things outside the car, cranking up the tunes, or letting conversation get too heated or too silly. In a 2016 study, AAA found that the No. 1 distraction for teenage drivers leading up to a crash isn't cell phone use; it's talking or attending to passengers in the vehicle.

"While that's especially true for young people, it can also be true for adults," says Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. "If you're on a road trip or enjoying a night out with friends, have a good time out on the road. But please take care as passengers not to increase the odds that you're going to get into a crash."

Riders can help monitor the environment. Without being dramatic, do alert the driver to road hazards such as sudden braking ahead or an erratic driver to avoid. Assume responsibility for GPS navigation, handle important text messages, and assist with fellow travelers' needs—especially those of young children. You can also offer to take a turn at the wheel if the driver starts looking tired.


This article was first published in March 2018 and updated in June 2023.