One in four arguments between couples in Lancashire happen in cars, with the stress of traffic and the confined space leading to more arguments than anywhere else, according to new research.
The study, conducted by independent car buying site carwow, also shows that the leading causes are falling out whilst travelling in the car are directions (33%), your partner's driving skills (32%), driving too quickly (17%), and choosing what's on the radio (8%).
Evidently, these fights can reach serious levels, with one in eight people admitting that such car-based arguments can see them going anywhere from three hours to more than a day without speaking to their partner, with one in 20 even saying that they have stormed out of the car and walked home.
“The act of driving brings stress of its own and a driver can already be stressed and frustrated by so many triggers on the road such as traffic, inconsiderate driving, roadworks, etc..." said Dr Sandi Mann, from the University of Central Lancashire. "So throw another person into the mix and it’s always going to have the potential to be explosive.
“The triggers for an argument are far more prevalent in driving situations, too - your partner’s individual habits come to the fore; perhaps in their lack of willingness to ask for directions, their tendency to drive too fast, or aggression towards other drivers," Dr Mann added. "All of these things can wind another person up."
When asked what it is about being in the car that leads to such edgy tension, most people blamed the stress of traffic for strained conversation, while 23% said that the confined space inevitably led to strife. The worst-offending journeys for spats were also identified as new routes (25%) and long road trips (18%).
“Once an argument starts, neither of you can go anywhere until the journey is over, so it’s only going to go one of two ways - a dramatic silence or, far more likely, a spin-off into other topics where one or both of you are harbouring a grudge," added Dr Mann. “Listen to soothing music only while on trips and to keep the car clean - create an environment that isn’t conducive to squabbling in the first place."
Mat Watson, resident motoring expert at carwow, said: “Drivers face so many distractions on the road today. Passengers should try to put themselves in the driving gloves of the person behind the wheel before kicking off an argument; it’s hard enough to drive on our roads in 2018 without added stress.”