Shotgun! How to Be a Better Passenger

It’s a coveted location in any vehicle- the front passenger seat. Riding shotgun, however, is not all fun and games. There is a serious level of responsibility that comes with that seat.

We are all undoubtedly aware of the dangers of distracted driving. As the passenger in the front seat, you are on the frontline of the battle against distracted driving. What you do and what you don’t do as front seat passenger could have a serious impact on your safety – and the safety of everyone in your vehicle. The following is a summary of your responsibilities while you’re riding shotgun and some tips on how to be a better passenger. We bet you never look at that seat the same.


Perhaps the primary duty of the front seat passenger is that of navigator. Let the driver keep his or her hands and eyes devoted to driving while you operate the GPS and look for turns and exits. Never be a distraction, but alert the driver to road changes and prepare him or her for what is coming up.

Telephone Operator

Ideally, cell phones should not be used in the car at all. When the driver is thinking about incoming texts and calls, he or she is not fully focused on the task at hand. If, however, messages must be sent or calls must be made, you should be the one to do it- not the driver. If the driver does reach for his or her phone, remind the driver not to do so – and offer to make those calls for the driver.


Some drivers may put together playlists, especially for long drives. If it becomes necessary to shuffle through the playlist or adjust the radio dials, you should do so. Fidgeting with music is a huge source of distracted driving. Remember also to keep the volume at a reasonable level to prevent distractions or difficulty hearing surrounding traffic. Allowing the driver to focus on the road, while you handle the music and all the rest, is the best way to stay safe.

Food Service

Eating while driving is another major cause of distracted driving. If, however, the driver wants a drink or small snack, you, as the front seat passenger, should be the one to open water bottles or snack packages. If the driver needs a large meal, encourage them to stop for something to eat. Even when you are driving long distances, stopping to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat is a good way to refuel and recharge without increasing your risk of an accident.

Be Alert

Don’t prop your feet up and snooze. Not only is it rude, but it could also be dangerous. Without distracting the driver, engage them in conversation from time to time to help keep them awake. If they are feeling drowsy, encourage them to pull over to rest or let you drive for a while. Being alert and attentive while they are driving is also a good way to have 2 sets of eyes on the road. You may notice an obstacle or an unsafe situation before the driver does.

What Not to Do:

Just as important as knowing what to do is, it is equally important to know what NOT to do.

  • DON’T fidget with the climate controls. Most drivers prefer a certain temperature for optimal comfort and concentration. The comfort of the driver is paramount over that of the passengers.
  • DON’T offer unnecessary criticism about the driver’s performance- that only adds to the stress of the situation. However, if the driver is doing something that truly makes you feel uncomfortable, you have a duty to speak up- for your own safety and that of those around you.
  • DON’T scream or make loud and sudden noises. Even if you see a dangerous situation ahead, try your best to relay the message calmly and quickly. Gasping loudly, screaming, or yelling may cause the driver to overreact or react unnecessarily.
  • DON’T turn on interior lights. This can impact the driver’s ability to see out of their mirrors and windows and may make it more difficult to react to sudden changes in the road.

Contact Our Denver Car Accident Attorneys

When you are injured in a car accident, it can be a traumatic and painful ordeal. During this time, it is important to have an experienced Denver car accident attorney on your side from the very start. Your attorney will be able to fight for your right to compensation and ensure that you have the money you need to fully recover.