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How to handle back seat project drivers

Adeline Teoh ed.
July 28, 2014

Road trips can be stressful at the best of times, but what happens when back seat drivers start to dictate where you’re going and how you get there?

I am not, to be honest, a good driver. Oh, I get from A to B in a safe enough manner, but that’s only one definition of ‘good’. I’m not very comfortable behind the wheel and I’ll do just about anything to avoid putting myself in high traffic areas, particularly in unfamiliar territory.

I bring this up because I’m just about to embark on a trip to the UK where I’ll be spending at least a week driving around Scotland and England. I have very specifically hired a car out of Woking, Surrey, so I do not have to contend with traffic in the London CBD.

While my partner will be occupying the front passenger seat and doing the bulk of the navigation, we will also have to contend with a few back seat drivers.

Google Maps: Does the work of a road directory and a GPS unit in one handy smartphone. Largely helpful but blind trust in its abilities can lead you astray. A savvy leader needs to know enough about the route to interpret Google Maps’ directions in an effective manner.

My mother: While not physically present, she is a stakeholder in my continued safety. Advice given: “Don’t drive off a cliff.” Can’t fault the advice, but it speaks of low confidence in my driving ability—not something I want to take with me on this journey.

Vicarious travellers: Family and friends who exert a subtle pressure so our photos, blog posts and anecdotes are punctuated with interesting facts and observations. Could be the deciding factor when taking one route over another.

Thankfully not on this trip but maybe on yours:

Annoying kids: Stakeholders who complain and are likely to distract—perhaps in an unsafe manner. May be the cause of diversions due to travel sickness and restroom breaks. Make a mess.

What back seat project drivers do you have?

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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