||This article possibly contains original research. (July 2008)|
A backseat driver is a vehicle passenger in the back seat or passenger seat who is not controlling the vehicle, and seems to be uncomfortable with the skills of the driver and/or wants to tutor the driver while the driver is at the wheel.
Some backseat drivers exhibit this type of behavior simply because they feel unsafe or out of control since they are not driving the vehicle, and may be nervous, jumpy, or overly eager to give suggestions and criticism about the driver's actions. The Maine Department of Transportation has a web poster "Are you a Good Back Seat Driver?" asking "True or False: Being a Backseat Driver means it is okay to be noisy or distracting to the driver as long as you are giving them safety tips." The Inland Register produced by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane makes use of it in a sermon: "Even our phrase 'back-seat driver' reflects this new-found freedom. Which of us who has graduated to the status of driver enjoys a passenger, especially one out of reach in the back seat, who seems to know how to drive better than we do?"
The Art of being a Backseat Driver in the San Bernardino County Sun summarizes various comments of the sort otherwise found in multiple blogs. Some are specialized, such as the Back Seat Driving blog, formerly the "LA Car Blog".
A famous example of a back seat driver is Hyacinth Bucket on the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. The term is also used in Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars, an episode of Invader Zim. A poem "The Backseat Driver" by Parick G Hughes appears in the Northern Ireland BBC.
It is even used as a deliberate game. In All things Considered on NPR for July 19, 2006, there is an account of a "Back Seat Driver competition in Forest City, Iowa. [...] The event—in which a driver races backward while blindfolded and instructed by the voice of a companion over an intercom—is in its eighth year." It has even been noticed by People's Daily.
In a more technological sense
The term has also been used for devices installed in a car, which observe the driving through electronic means, and inform the driver or a third party. Back Seat Drivers are moving Up Front by Anne Eisenberg in The New York Times, February 4, 2007.
In a figurative sense
The term is also used allusively, for a person who gives advice and instructions about what he or she is not responsible for, and may not well understand. For example, Journalism's Back Seat Drivers in American Journalism Review of April 7, 2007, discusses how "The ascendant blogosphere has rattled the news media with its tough critiques and nonstop scrutiny of their reporting." It is an especially common use in articles dealing with the automobile industry, as in The Backseat Driver gets his Way: Bernd Pischetsrieder Quits as Boss of Europe's Biggest Carmaker in The Economist for Nov. 9, 2006.
Armchair quarterback refers to a sports fan who seems to know better than the players themselves and is always eager to shout advice whether he/she be live at the game or more commonly sitting at home in their chair. (hence "armchair") Similarly, the phrase Armchair General is used to refer to somebody who is not in the military but seems to know better than the generals who plan military operations. This term can be used in many of the same situations as backseat driver.
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/learning/getwritingni/sp_ph_backseat.shtml Writer's Showcase
- http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/interstitial.cfm?subjectid=348990&storyid=8140079 The Backseat Driver gets his Way: Bernd Pischetsrieder Quits as Boss of Europe's Biggest Carmaker
|Look up back-seat driver in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|