Side seat steering

The old idiom was, ‘Back Seat Driving’. One wonders why they said back seat. Did the wife or any other person who delighted in offering unsolicited advice to the driver sit on the back seat? Was it not possible for that person to sit on the front seat by the side of the driver?

At present we can hardly see the man in the front seat and the wife occupying the back seat. That is why we can say ‘side seat driving’ In fact those interested in alliteration can say ‘side seat steering.’ What is the problem created by the back seat or side seat drivers? They usually criticise the driver and make remarks like ‘Why did you allow him to overtake?’
‘Honk him, honk him’ and further they go on making various comments about the state of the traffic, the state of the roads and so on and so forth. The most interesting aspect of the back seat or side seat driving is that mostly such people do not know driving. If they knew driving they wouldn’t offer gratuitous comments and advice because a good driver knows what is what. The side/back seat adviser does not know what problems are there and how complicated it is to drive in crowded traffic.

Strictly speaking passengers are prohibited from talking to the drivers lest they should lose their concentration. As a child I used to go from Mangalore to Chikmagalur (where my father worked) via an arduous stretch of road known as Chaarmadi Ghat and used to notice the board near the driver of the bus, ‘Please do not converse with the driver’. Of course nowadays the board seems to have disappeared and the drivers are least worried about talking or not talking with passengers. If some drivers don’t talk it is not because of caution but disdain. If at all a driver chooses to make a comment he is likely to say, “What man, have you told at home that you won’t be returning?”

Vehicles meant for training learner drivers have an extra set of clutch and brake which the trainer can use in an emergency. If the learner makes a bad mistake the trainer can apply the brake and avoid an accident. Thank God such extra brake is available only in cars meant for teaching driving. Can we imagine what would happen if all cars had extra clutch and brake!
On a certain occasion a man was driving on a difficult stretch of road with his wife seated beside him. There was a big truck moving slowly in front of them and it was difficult to overtake the giant. The lady said, “Now try to overtake” at every possible situation. Then, exasperated she sad, “I think you have lost a hundred chances”. Just then the man got a fine opportunity and comfortably put the giant behind and said, “I was not looking for chances dear. I wanted an opportunity and I just got the right one.”

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