Technologies designed to curb the tongues of back-seat drivers

Photo: courtesy Ford Motor Company.

“Watch that truck!”

“You’re trailing too close.”

“Slow down, you’re driving too fast!”

Ah, the incessant (helpful?) advice from a backseat driver.

But perhaps the days of these common calls from backseat drivers are coming to an end, thanks to new, driver-assist technologies.

According to a recent study from Ford and sociologist Dr. Jess Carbino, 68 per cent of drivers believe that backseat driving behavior will decrease because of driver-assist technology.

Ford teamed with Dr. Carbino, best known for her work with Bumble—a location-based social and dating application that facilitates communication between interested users—to perform a study on how backseat driving affects drivers.

No surprise to drivers, the study confirmed backseat drivers can cause more harm than good for the well-being of those inside the vehicle.

“For a lot of drivers, constantly getting advice from passengers is more than just annoying, it’s stressful,” said Carbino.

Car manufacturers, such as Ford, insist that available driver-assist technologies—such as Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert and Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking—can help reduce the risk of collisions and build confidence in certain driving situations, while always allowing the driver to remain in control.

In fact, the study’s findings contradict a growing belief that technology inhibits human connection. Insights from the study show that while backseat driving can cause in-vehicle relationships to suffer, driver-assist technology can help avoid unnecessary backseat banter. Since the technology can help assist with some of the burdensome tasks of navigating, drivers and passengers can focus on more enjoyable aspects of the ride, namely each other.

The data also suggests that since respondents have confidence in the technology, it can help eliminate the perceived need for their backseat driving input.

Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Technology, available as standard and optional on its vehicles, includes a suite of features to help quiet backseat drivers and allow drivers to navigate the road with confidence.

“Certainly, the intent of Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology was not to eliminate backseat driving,” said Chris Billman, Ford Co-Pilot360 engineering manager. “But, hey, if we can help in that way too, that’s great!”