Theme : Passengers – Introduction

Passengers? What are they good for?

HondaSince you are on this site reading this, I’m sure that you probably agree with me. Passengers are of limited worth. They have their uses. They can coo in admiration of your driving skills. They can unwrap sticky sweets and pass them to you. They can scurry out into rainy nights and get you fish & chips. They can ….

But I think I’ve run out of positives. As any true driver will tell you, passengers are, by and large, a liability. Do you drive better if there are passengers in the car? By which I don’t mean do you drive more slowly and conscientiously, but is your swift progress impeded by the need to consider the sacks of potatoes taking up space in the other seats in your car. Remember I said your car. although some passengersact as if it was theirs. They move vents around, they open windows, they fiddle with the radio, they put things in your ashtray, they ask if you have air freshner. When you go round corners they grab at things and press at an imaginary brake as you approach junctions at perfectly reasonable speeds. They just refuse to stay still and silent like most other, more useful, loads.

Fortunately, many manufacturers share our healthy contempt for passengers. True, some of the blue-chip labels put reclining seats and what-not in the backs of their larger offerings, but you can usually rely on lesser brands to supply you with a car that has limited headroom in the back and small, high, mean windows offering a poor view. This assures that people will only ever ask to travel in the back of your car if they have no alternative at all. The front seat might be more inviting, but there are other ploys you can use. I often fit one of those awful beaded seat covers, then put the seat far forward and upright, jamming something between it and the rear seat so that it can’t be adjusted. This usually does the trick, leaving you in magisterial, solo splendour, singing Wagner loudly and tunelessly, whilst you twirl the wheel as much as you like and try to dance on the pedals like Walter Röhrl. Or is that just me?

Yes, I have little sympathy for passengers. On a few occasions I have had to be a passenger myself, and I despised myself thoroughly. Naturally, the drivers I accompanied did not project the confidence in their abilities that I do, so I am possibly excused, but I found myself strangely dissociated from the car’s progress. It seemed to be moving very quickly, although the speedometer suggested otherwise, its stability on the road seemed hugely compromised, other drivers seemed clueless and objects loomed out of everywhere. I felt very vulnerable.

But you might disagree with me and the majority of the motoring press. You might think that passengers are, to use modern terminology, equal partners in the shared motoring experience. You might even feel that they get a raw deal from us and that, in too many cases – accommodation, visibility, ride comfort – their needs come a distant second to the driver’s need to be seen as a ‘Ringmeister rather than a smooth and caring everyday chauffeur.

As I say, I am sure we are really of accord in this matter but, should you wish to add anything to my point of view, or should you mischievously wish to play devil’s advocate, please do so.

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