Drive Passengers in Comfort

Whether you are a chauffeur or just want your family, friends or carpool group to enjoy themselves, you can take a few simple steps to keep your passengers content and hopefully even arrive at your destination feeling refreshed. This article will show you how.


  1. If you have a choice of vehicles, choose a vehicle that does not ride high off the ground and is comfort- but not performance-oriented.
    • A car marketed on performance will generally have a somewhat harsh ride due to a stiff suspension for more "road feel" and best cornering on smooth roads.[1] This may mean more fun for you, but more distraction and discomfort for your passengers, especially if any of them are prone to car sickness.
    • A vehicle that rides high, such as a truck or SUV, will sway and due to a high floor often not have as much legroom as a minivan or midsize or large car.
    • Bumpy-treaded tires give an unpleasant, buzzing ride. Thin tires on big wheels may be stylish, but they lose the cushioning of a big bubble of air all around to gently compress and absorb the little bumps you roll over. Roll like NASCAR and Formula One on tires with the usual proportions.[2]
    • Longer is better. A longer wheelbase, which tends to go with a longer car, decreases pitching from bumps and increases directional stability at speed. Some long cars have enough rear-seat legroom for the front passenger seat to recline almost flat in front of the bench for sleeping rather than leaning up onto it. Some luxury cars, minivans, and even the new hybrid car "Prius V" have rear seats that recline, too, but check for adequate legroom in the front and back simultaneously. A long vehicle can be hard to park at first, but surprisingly easy to pull into or parallel park in tight-looking spaces once you learn how.
    • Most mid-size or full-size sedans, minivans (Including low-riding "SUVs") or vans with nice seats are good choices. For a given amount of money a nicer model of car, with bigger, stronger parts and more sealing, will generally feel more polished overall than a cheaper one with a lot of "options" only noticed occasionally. And watch out for very fancy cars--long-term reliability and maintenance may have been sacrificed for a target market that doesn't care.
      • In the United States, a Crown Vic (Including the extra-long "Commercial" type), Grand Marquis, Town Car (Including the extra-long "L" type) is a choice of many professionals due to its great size, nice though not best possible comfort, and extreme durability and ease of maintenance. Minivans are popular too.[3]
    • Look for a gas engine, with at least six cylinders. It's noticeably smoother than four. But a small four-cylinder or diesel engine will save quite a bit of fuel, and the four-cylinder may be cheaper up front, too. See how you like each kind in a quiet car at idle, accelerating, and cruising before you decide.
      • Hybrid cars are often optimized for fuel efficiency over comfort and even cost-efficiency, but can save a lot of gas by regenerative braking and provide plenty of comfort at low speed in stop-and-go commuting.
    • For almost all drivers, an automatic transmission will shift more smoothly. If you prefer a manual, practice driving it smoothly by gently matching engine and transmission speed as you shift.
    • Mild window tint can keep the car cooler and make sunlight and nighttime lights less distracting. Sunglasses are a good alternative or supplement. Try inexpensive wraparound polarized "fishing glasses", which can fit loosely over prescription glasses.
    • Good headlights let you see further and so drive more smoothly and safely at night. Separate high and low beams are generally more effective than a single bulb with two filaments. HIDs are even better, and their cooler color may promote wakefulness[4], but they are more expensive to buy and maintain.
    • Check the "shock absorbers" on a car that's been well-used. Their job is to gradually absorb or "damp" the energy of the car's blows against bumps in the road which the springs turn into gentle bounces so that the car gently lifts or dips but does not continue to sway. They eventually wear out, and replacing them can affordably renew the ride.
    • Leather seats are easier to keep clean and so more compatible with eating in the car (Avoid perforated ones), but cloth seats resist sun damage, grip to provide better support, and are considered more luxurious in Japan.[5] Either can can be fitted with covers, including tough cloth-backed vinyl from a taxi supply shop.
    • Ride quality isn't everything. Convertibles can be noisy, creaky, and tiring, but the view into a towering city and the breeze on a nice day beat any car roof. Rent one for a special occasion.
  2. Keep the car ready with a few simple things the passengers might want. For instance, bottles of water (No big deal if they spill it), non-messy heat-resistant snacks such as Clif bars in case they get hungry,tissues, a plastic bag or bin for trash (Keep it emptied regularly; bring many bags if you fear a carsick passenger), an umbrella, bug repellent or sunscreen depending on the destination, and some free trunk space. On a long drive add blankets, neck pillows, and sunglasses so the passengers and/or spare driver can doze off without the driver being overly warm. Stocking up on some medicine for headaches, stomach aches, and car sickness and any other illnesses your passengers might have isn't a bad idea either!
    • You can keep warm drinks in a vacuum flask with a spill-proof lid through which to drink, or even have someone warm food in a low-power car microwave called a "WaveBox". But it would be best to stop for a picnic with anything that could be messy.
  3. Avoid sudden movements. The passengers, unlike the driver, will not instinctively stiffen themselves to resist and not much notice sudden movements. Fast acceleration and hard braking also exacerbates car sickness. When starting out, ease onto the gas, and when slowing, ease onto the brake. Slow down gradually before turns. Proceed slowly through winding or hilly areas (But not too slowly if other drivers are present): tossing from side to side and "floating" past crests can be unsettling. At the same time, don't be afraid to make sudden movements to avoid danger.
    • Familiarize yourself with the car's handling in all kinds of conditions. This will help you drive it more confidently and smoothly. For instance, try a long twisty road when you don't have any passengers.
    • Adjust your seat and mirrors; make sure the headlights are working well. If you can see something early, you will not need to swerve to avoid it. Consider adding blind-spot mirrors.
    • If you have a button to turn off "overdrive" (Lock out the highest gear), you can tap it for gentle steady engine braking such as from highways and on hills. Be sure to turn it off when it's time to speed up again.
  4. Avoid uneven movement. Try to maintain a comfortable momentum without stop-starts and weaving.
    • Freeways or motorways are best. Even if a little slower than usual (but still somewhat fast because there aren't any stops). However, don't use if jammed.
    • Find a lane in which you can maintain a steady speed without being a nuisance (Not the left one, and sometimes not the right one) and maintain plenty of distance from the car ahead to avoid fiddling with your speed.
    • Use the cruise control, including for small adjustments to speed, except in very heavy traffic.
    • So long as you can turn it easily and freely (This is best with power steering), hold the steering wheel around the 8- and 4-o-clock positions, especially when headed in a more or less straight line. The weight of both arms resting on the top of the wheel tends to make it automatically swing a little to the side in which it is unintentionally deflected, until a force is consciously applied. But deflecting the wheel with both arms' weight resting toward the bottom tends to make it automatically recenter. So long as your movement is not obstructed, rest your arms in comfortable places and arrange them and your grip so the wheel stays centered (And certainly doesn't tend to drift you toward oncoming traffic) except when consciously shifted.
  5. Find a smooth road surface. The rightmost lanes in right-hand traffic countries are sometimes more pitted from trucks.
  6. Avoid going faster than the flow of traffic overall. This increases noise and the need for sudden movements significantly. Also, passengers create distractions that make high speeds particularly unsafe, and there are more people at risk from any accident.
  7. On a long trip, take a break at least every two or three hours or so, before one becomes strongly needed. This enables passengers to refresh regularly without having to feel that they're inconveniencing you by asking you to stop somewhere and it gives everyone the chance to stretch. You might even consider changing drivers at such a break.


  • Use external storage for items rather than stuffing them into passenger seating areas. If you're going away on vacation, for a sports event, etc., give passengers the reassurance that they'll have sufficient legroom by putting equipment, camping gear, bikes, games, balls, surfboards, etc. in roof racks or other external holding devices.
  • Car trouble can be even less fun with a crowd. Keep your car Car Maintenance and Repair, and check the basics yourself before a long trip.
  • Child passengers, regardless of age, are always safest in the rear seat.
  • Concerned about fuel efficiency? You already took the most important step by carpooling, reducing fuel consumption, parts consumption, and traffic congestion. A car's or minivan's relatively small frontal area will require much less fuel at speed than the broad front of a truck or SUV. (A full-size van is even better per person, if you can fill it up.) If the kind of car you want has several engine options, choose a relatively small one: a bigger gas engine usually consumes a lot of extra fuel even while its capabilities are wasted with slow driving.
  • If your passengers don't want to chat, you can occupy yourself with the stereo's balance and fade adjusted to your corner. Or, depending on local rules, a headset that doesn't interfere with hearing outside sounds such as an earphone in one ear playing quietly.
  • The big engine that moves a luxury car so smoothly and can even haul a stretch limo will make it go fast when you like--it just won't feel fast. (Watch the speedometer!) But even if a top-heavy vehicle like a truck or SUV can go fast, it shouldn't: they tend to tip rather than drift in too-sharp turns.
  • If your passengers are fond of tabletop roleplaying games, these are excellent for long distance travel. The storyline can go on and on throughout the journey. Putting the dice into small clear Tupperware containers so that players don't lose them in the back helps with this.
  • Fix any missing or damaged headrests. Not having them can be both uncomfortable and unsafe for all passengers.
  • For long trips, keep a car games book in the car for passengers to use. That way you don't need to be chief entertainer and they can get on organizing games while you concentrate on the driving.
  • Looking out a window is a great way to appreciate nature or a Have a "Staycation" in Your Own City, avoid car sickness, or start a conversation. And reading or watching something close up in a moving vehicle can cause Avoid Eye Strain (A far-off view shifts little in your field of view as you bounce a few inches this way and that). Even so, you might want to have on hand books; self-illuminating portable electronics such as an eBook reader, small TV (Some mount with hook-and-loop fasteners, others are built into replacement headrests, and some accept antenna and video inputs and headphone outputs), or video player; and an AC converter on hand for other electronics such as laptops, particularly if individual car adapters are uneconomical. Look for one with "sine wave" or at least "modified sine wave" AC-like output to not stress the devices and with automatic shutdown to not drain the battery if left plugged in. You can get adapters to plug multiple devices into the cigarette lighter plug, but the total power is limited to a few hundred watts or less and drawing too much can blow a fuse. Unless you confirm that your car can handle more, limit yourself to a few smaller electronic gadgets or one bigger one like a big desktop-replacement laptop.


  • Remember that too much talking can be a distraction. When you are experiencing particularly tricky parts of your drive, signal to passengers that you need silence, or be silent yourself and by example, they'll realize this is a quiet moment.

Things You'll Need

  • Suitable car
  • Snacks and drinks for passengers
  • Blankets and neck pillows for passengers
  • Trash bag for car (Many tourist information centers have these free of charge)
  • GPS/ road maps to prevent being lost

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Sources and Citations