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Who's the worst backseat driver? (Hint: Not the kids)

Side profile of a couple in a car with their teenage son and daughter (17-20)
If only all families could be so happy. Turns out nagging passengers cause an undue amount of stress, challenging the notion that the ride is half the fun.George Doyle / Getty Images

There are few things more frustrating as a driver than being nagged by a know-it-all passenger. But who makes the worst backseat (or side-seat) driver?

According to a new survey, spouses – whether husbands or wives – top the list, while children are usually the least irritating passengers. That’s something both men and women agree on, according to a poll of 500 drivers by

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Among the women drivers polled for the survey, 34 percent said their husbands are the worst backseat driver. Mothers came in second at 18 percent, with friends listed in third place at 15 percent.

Among men, 40 percent say their wives are the most annoying backseat drivers, followed by  friends (17 percent) and mothers (15 percent).

While children might be the source of that familiar refrain, “Are we there yet?” they ranked surprisingly low in terms of being backseat drivers, according to Combining the results of both men and women motorists, adult daughters were listed by 7 percent while 4 percent pointed to adult sons as annoying.

But only 5 percent of drivers cited young sons, while daughters, whether teen or child, were listed by just 3 percent of drivers.

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Perhaps surprisingly, fathers were rated worst passengers by only 5 percent of those polled. “Getting there isn’t always half the fun," according to managing editor Michelle Megna, who wrote the story about backseat drivers for “Micromanagement from the backseat critics can turn a scenic drive into a battle of wills.”

As to what backseat drivers are most likely to complain about, the survey found the biggest offenses to be:· Comments on driving speed, 47 percent;· Giving alternate directions, 29 percent;· Talking too much, 19 percent;· Pushing an imaginary brake with their foot, 15 percent;· Taking over the radio, changing stations, music or volume, 10 percent.

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Other complaints included texting and making cellphone calls, making sound effects while playing video games, screaming and getting car sick.

Megna offered a few tips to quiet those backseat drivers, including mapping out a route ahead of time, agreeing on music and banishing opinionated passengers to the backseat. She also recommends deep-breathing techniques – perhaps both backseat drivers as well as the person actually behind the wheel.

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