5 Reasons Why You Argue with Your Significant Other on Road Trips

·        Men (78.8%) argue less while driving than women (87.1%)

·        Control and assumptions are main causes for fights when travelling with a significant other

·        Fighting on the way? Focus on the journey and not the arguments

According to HAPPYCAR’s survey, 79.52% of drivers argue in a car while driving with their significant other. The overwhelming outcome was the reason to conduct further research on car arguments, and possible solutions. Three relationship experts provide recommendations to avoid car arguments based on the results of the survey. 


Women argue more behind the wheel than men

The odds of having fights are greater when women are driving rather than men, 87.1% of the women who drove had fights in contrast with 78.8% of the men. Here are the five main causes for fights during road trips: Women argue the most about route descriptions and GPS (35.5%), the partner’s driving style is the second cause (29.4%). The reasons why men start a fight show common grounds: route descriptions and GPS (27.5%) and driving style (26.1%). Nevertheless, there are large differences when evaluating other fight causes. As a third reason, men have the tendency to blame their partners for traffic jams (19.44%). Women on the contrary find a partner who is speeding terrible, which is the third issue for starting a fight. And finally, music tastes are also ranked in the top five major causes for car fights, it’s the cause for most arguments when women are driving.

Hearing it from the experts

The British relationship expert MA. Madeleine Mason identifies assumptions as one of the causes for car fights. “We tend to forget that we need to talk about our expectations on our trips and holidays, and instead, we assume the other person knows what we want out of the trip”. The American psychiatrist Carole Lieberman adds to the control dimension of car fights. “Directions, driving style and driving speed were the three most listed reasons for starting a fight in the car. Each of these relate to the issue of control. Couples are having power struggles to control where they are going and how they are getting there.” Cathryn Mora, an Australian relationship coach, relates the fights with the length of the relationship. “Couples have established roles in the relationship and have let go of the need to control or advise the other person.” Long travels between the 10 and 20 hours or more illustrate the lowest fight percentage (72.1%). Madeleine Mason relates this outcome to planning; people naturally plan longer journeys into detail.  


Planning details, the perfect solution to prevent fights in the car

Madeleine Mason explains that it is important to accept the driving style of a partner beforehand. “If you are unhappy with how your partner drives, then you should drive.” Furthermore, it is better to decide on the usage of a GPS or the person giving directions before sitting in the car. Cathryn Mora recommends starting the journey with a tidy car and to discuss the route with the partner beforehand; in addition, it is advisable to bring enough food and drinks and to have regular breaks on the journey. Dr. Carole Lieberman emphasizes on the importance of nutrition “When you are hungry, you are more apt to get into a fight.” Moreover, she warns, couples should not save all disagreements for the car if they want to speak in private. This could damage a relationship significantly if the partner feels trapped and has no way to escape from the situation. “Don’t save up your disagreements until you have your partner alone as a captive in a car.” A short overview of the recommendations can be found below:

·        Accept the driving style of your partner, otherwise drive yourself

·        Discuss the usage of a GPS together in advance

·        Begin the journey with a tidy car

·        Take breaks regularly

·        Discuss the route before sitting in the car

·        Never drive hungry

·        Do not save up frustration until driving in the car


First aid for arguments while driving

Madeleine Mason states that it is completely normal to have small disagreements on a travel, however, it is important how they are solved. Couples could think about making rules together, but also something as simple as buying a coffee on the way and remembering the purpose of the holiday. The holiday should be a moment in which we are grateful to share time with our beloved ones. In case couples face an inevitable fight, Cathryn Mora advises to park the car along the road and to take a moment to let the tension past. “Consider how important the issue at hand is? Will someone die? If we are not talking about dangerous driving, everything else is an opportunity to expand your patience”. The bullet points provide a small recap:

·        Discuss possible rules and agree on them together

·        If the situation is getting out of control, then think about the purpose of the holiday

·        In case of dangerous driving always park the car on the side of the road 

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Research method

To give a professional analysis, HAPPYCAR invited three experts: Dr. Carole Lieberman (USA), BSc. Cathryn Mora (AUS) and MSc. Madeleine Mason (UK). By including both coaches and doctors, the advice covers both practical and theoretical aspects. More information can be found in the short bibliographies.


HAPPYCAR’s study has been conducted in the four largest European countries, which are also the most popular ones among Europeans, this includes Spain, France, Italy, Germany. The poll listed eight questions from which two were multiple choice, five single choice and one open question. The questions aimed to gather demographic information (e.g. gender, age) and to identify possible causes and consequences for fights while driving by car. The questionnaire has been spread through social media, WhatsApp and forums and reached a total of 1130 European participants who went on a road trip. The genders of respondents are equally divided which excludes gender discrimination: masculine respondents (48.9%), female respondents (50.1%).


1.    MA. Madeleine Mason (UK)

Madeleine Mason is a dating psychologist and managing director of dating & relationship expert company PassionSmiths, where she and her team help singles and couples have better relationships. She is a member of the British Psychological Society and published studies on social intelligence.

2.    BSc. Cathryn Mora (AUS)

Cathryn Mora is an Australian accredited relationship coach by the International Coaching Foundation (ICF) in Brisbane. She aims to help women across the world to achieve the life which they desire and prefer, she consults relationship and career issues. 

3.    Dr. Carole Lieberman (USA)

Doctor Carole Lieberman is a famous American psychiatrist and often invited on television, radio and in newspapers (e.g. Reuters, The New York Times, USA today, BBC, Discovery Channel and CNN). She is also diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and wrote several books on relationship therapy.


HAPPYCAR ( is the biggest price comparison website for rental cars within Europe. Comprising more than 1,000 partners of cooperation, the company based in Hamburg can draw on one of the biggest partner networks in the area. Through a transparent and neat comparison between car rental offers, the customer saves up to 60% and is also able to compare insurances and additional services at a glance. HAPPYCAR ensures its customers the cheapest renting price at the time of booking.

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