Psychology Today: Passengers say spouses drive them crazy

… husbands take the brunt of the criticism

Nov. 29, 2013 (Foster City, CA) – Over a third of people point to their spouses as being “the most annoying drivers,” according to a new survey. surveyed 2,000 licensed drivers about their opinions on annoying drivers and the habits that send their blood pressure through the roof.

Results: Who is the most annoying driver?

  • My spouse: 36 percent
  • A friend: 22 percent
  • My mother: 16 percent
  • My father: 9 percent
  • Other: 8 percent
  • My teen son: 5 percent
  • My teen daughter: 4 percent

When results for “my spouse” are looked at by gender, women were slightly more likely to choose “my husband” as annoying drivers (20 percent) than men were to choose their wives (16 percent).

Write-in candidates for “other” varied widely, but “my sister” had the most write-in votes, coming in at over 10 percent of the “other” choices.

Survey respondents were asked to choose from 14 driving behaviors that made their pick “the most annoying.” “Following others too closely” and “driving too fast” were the top selections for everyone, but mothers, fathers and wives were also criticized for “driving too slowly.”

The most annoying driving habits are:

  • Following others too closely: 14 percent
  • Driving too fast: 13 percent
  • Driving too slowly: 10 percent
  • Cutting off other drivers: 8 percent
  • Talking on cellphone while driving: 7 percent
  • Merging too slowly onto the highway: 6 percent
  • Getting lost: 6 percent
  • Taking inconvenient and/or long routes: 6 percent
  • Fiddling with radio/CD player: 6 percent
  • Failing to stay in their lane: 6 percent
  • Not signaling: 5 percent
  • Taking turns sharply: 5 percent
  • Looking at passengers while talking: 4 percent
  • Braking at green lights: 4 percent


“When we look at each ‘annoying behavior’ and who’s most likely to be guilty of it, we see that people have specific complaints against friends,” said Amy Danise, editorial director of “In addition to the usual speeding and following too closely, friends are most likely to be cutting off other drivers, fiddling with the radio/CD player, talking on the cellphone while driving, failing to signal and looking at passengers rather than the road while talking.”

When we look at each ‘annoying behavior’ and who’s most likely to be guilty of it, we see that people have specific complaints against friends

Respondents were also asked to rank the irritation level of each habit with “it bugs me,” “it makes me angry” or “I can’t stand it.” The behaviors picked most often for “I can’t stand it” were:

  • Talking on cell phone while driving
  • Failing to stay in their lane
  • Following others too closely
  • Cutting off other drivers

Interestingly, while “driving too fast” was a very common complaint, it’s not among the most infuriating to passengers. In fact, “driving too fast” had the highest percentage of people (57 percent) who merely said, “It bugs me.”

When asked how they react to a person’s lousy driving, over half said they comment or yell, but plenty of others bite their tongues:

How do you react to annoying driving?

  • I comment: 42 percent
  • I don’t say a word: 20 percent
  • I grab the door handle or dashboard: 16 percent
  • I yell: 11 percent
  • I make faces or noises: 9 percent
  • Other: 2 percent


Write-in responses for “other” reactions offered a range of strategies for getting from point A to point B.

  • I crawl in the back so I can’t see
  • I look out the side window
  • I’ve given up
  • Pray
  • Close my eyes

“It’s easy to judge from the passenger seat,” Danise said. “Pretty much everyone drives, and pretty much everyone thinks they’re really good at it.”

Read the full article here

Methodology surveyed 2,000 licensed drivers age 18 and older. Respondents were split evenly between males and females and distributed across age groups according to Census data on age distribution. The online-panel survey was fielded in October 2013.

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