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Gone in 560 seconds. That's how long it takes on average for a driver to lose their temper and react to annoying passenger habits, according to a recent study.

New research, from car insurance provider 1ST CENTRAL, has found that Brits are a nation of back seat drivers. The most irritating faux pas a passenger can commit is changing the radio station or taking control of the volume, with two fifths of motorists (39%) agreeing it sends their pulses racing.

Drivers don’t take kindly to panicked reactions, with nearly two in five (37%) agreeing that a nervous gasp from their passengers annoy them when behind the wheel, whilst a quarter (25%) hate it when a passenger ‘fake brakes’. It seems that the car ambience is not to be messed with either, with altering the heating and opening and closing windows both featuring in the list of top passenger faux pas.   

It takes the average driver just 560 seconds (nine minutes and 20 seconds) to boil over and react to these annoying habits, yet almost a third of motorists (27%) have their tempers fuelled in five minutes or less. Young drivers aged 18-24 years have the shortest fuse, snapping at just seven minutes and 55 seconds, whilst 55-64 year olds can keep cruising until 10 minutes 12 seconds.

For nearly a quarter of people (24%) bad habits result in an argument, yet a third of drivers (31%) remain decidedly British, getting cross and saying nothing. As a result, a fifth of people (21%) don’t speak for the rest of the journey and one in 20 drivers (6%) have even dropped the passenger off early. Worryingly, a fifth of motorists (22%) say that pesky passengers distract them from driving safely.

Andy James, UK CEO at 1ST CENTRAL, commented: “Many of us are guilty of committing annoying passenger faux pas and the research shows that nearly a quarter of drivers can’t help themselves in doing it to others. Whilst a third of people believe they are helping someone to drive safer, it’s important to remember that this can actually have a detrimental effect on the driver’s concentration.”

Those looking for a stress-free drive are better off giving a lift to men. The research revealed that mums and girlfriends are worse car passengers than dads and boyfriends, being 50% more likely to commit a faux pas on a journey (17% compared to 11%). Married couples were found to be the worst offenders for driving each other nuts, with a third (30%) committing a passenger faux pas nearly every time they get in a car.

Top 10 passenger faux pas

1. Adjusting the music
2. Notifying the driver of potential hazards
3. Nervous gasping
4. Commenting on the speed
5. Controlling the heating
6. Criticising parking
7. Telling the driver to change lanes
8. Pretending to brake
9. Opening or closing windows
10. Commenting on the route