*** This Halacha deals with topic of Yichud. Yichud is the concept that a man may not be secluded with a forbidden woman. Please read all the Halachot on this topic as there are conditions and exclusions that must be fully understood before accepting Lema’ase. ***
Is it permitted for a man and a lady to travel together alone in a car? This question is about a man and lady who are normally not permitted to be alone together. Would it be a problem of Yichud or not for them to be in a car together? So according to the Halacha, it would be permissible so long as they are traveling on roads that are populated either by pedestrians or by other occupied vehicles. Additionally, the car windows must be transparent and in a condition whereby the pedestrians and/or other motorists would be able to see inside. It’s likened to having an open window or open door in a house that enables others to easily see inside. This condition protects and prevents an inappropriate situation by exposing any actions to passers by and on lookers. The man and lady would not commit an impropriety for fear that others might see them. As long as there are clear windows and people to witness activities, so then the problem of Yichud is alleviated and the man and lady can travel together alone.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach writes that we do not suspect that the secluded man and lady might turn off the road and come into a place where there are no people. It’s just like when we don’t suspect one to lock a door or window of a house, thereby creating a problem of Yichud. It’s also like the situation where we said that we don’t suspect one of pushing the stop button in an elevator. We do not presume that people would do something to put themselves in a Yichud situation.
It should be pointed out that there would be no difference between day and night in the case of a car. A man and lady can ride alone together in a car as long as there are other motorists or pedestrians who can look through their window.
Generally speaking however, the Acharonim hold and Rav Moshe Feinstein writes this in his Teshuvot, that from an ethical standpoint it is not so proper for a forbidden man and lady to be riding alone together in an automobile. Even though according to the law you might not have a problem of Yichud, but nevertheless, it is not proper Derech Eretz, and not the most respectful way from an ethical stand point.
Furthermore, the Shevet HaLevi (Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner) writes that a man and forbidden lady should not sit in the same row even when permitted to be in the car together under the above conditions. One should sit in the front and the other should sit in the back. Now, we are lenient on this particular issue if a man and lady are out on a date. There won’t be a second date if the lady has to sit in the back. The point here is, that in all other cases a man and normally forbidden lady should not be sitting next to each other in the same row. Now of course, this does not apply to one’s wife, mother, or daughters.
So to review, Halacha permits a man and lady to be alone in a car, both day and night, as long as they are in areas where others can see inside the car. They should not, however, be sitting next to each other in the same row. And, in general, one should try and keep away from such a practice even though it is permitted according to the Halacha. From an ethical stand point it would not be proper for a man and forbidden lady to be alone in a car. But of course, as Rav Moshe Feinstein does include, one can rely on the leniency if needed such as in a case where a Machloket can arise.