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That right-arm reflex passenger "save" when braking

What do you think? The reason T&R gave for the driver’s reflex-driven right-arm “save” of the person in the passenger seat comes from the days of cars without seat belts. But what about all of us who started our driving careers AFTER cars had good seatbelts?
Personally, I’ve never seen a man do the “save”-thing. But several of my female friends do it. And NONE of them are old enough to have driven with crummy seatbelts. So the question is - why are they doing it and why the gender difference?
My theory? The movement is now designed to save a big purse-full of contents from tumbling into the footwell on the passenger side when there is sudden braking!!

I’m with you on that ‘‘saving stuff from flying’’ reflex.
I do that as well because I often have ‘‘stuff’’ on the seat.
Luch bag, groceries, tools, etc.

I agree with the gender difference theory, but for a different reason than you do. This is a glaring generalization and not intended to provoke anyone or assign specific roles to anyone based on sex, but I think it’s because mothers are women and fathers are men. I think instinctually mothers will care for their young before anything else, and fathers will try to avoid or neutralize the danger that’s threatening them. Mom will keep the kids from falling off the seat, Dad will try to avoid the accident.

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I agree with asemaster’s theory. I have done that arm thing for years, starting when I had children, but NOT when all that was on my seat was a purse, etc. My mom did it, many women I have known do it automatically–we don’t really know we’ve done it until afterwards! I also grab at my kids when they go near edges of things. Maybe a little less now that they are all 20 & older (insert laugh). One time, and only that time, my grab saved one of my kids: she leaped off a waist-high rock, landed next to me on a slanted rocky hillside, and I grabbed her by her Osh Kosh B’Gosh jumper back. She’d have catapulted down the rock otherwise. Good thing I had that instinct firmly in place!

I recall that when my kids were young I too reached over to hold them when they were in the front seat. When one’s kids are in the car, that’s all that matters. When they’re not, or if they’re adults, one tends to think more about the options available to avoid or mitigate the accident.

I don’t think gender is involved. But I’m basing my opinion purely on opinion, with no data whatsoever to back it up.

I didn’t hear the show, but I wasn’t aware that people did this for passengers. It doesn’t make any sense to me, to be honest. The best way to protect a passenger is to keep both hands on the steering wheel all the way through whatever event is happening. Besides, if the passenger is about to undergo enough force to get injured, there’s no way one outstretched arm is going to reduce that force in any meaningful way. In addition, sticking an arm between the passenger and the airbag is likely to make injuries worse for both parties.

As for purses and other items, it seems kind of silly not to put them on the floor to begin with. There are lots of idiots out there on the roads, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that hard braking ends up happening from time to time.

Lion, you are right about the physics. But I always put my arm out anyway. Any little bit I could do to reduce the effect on ly kids…even if it was futile. My intellect be damned.

“save the groceries!” applies to passengers, too

My Mom used to do that back in the 60’s! When you think about those Marque De Sade dash boards they had back then, you know, with the metal spiked radio knobs, she was probably worried about me being impaled on the dash.