5 Stupid Things All New Drivers Have Tried Once

Youth and cars go together like hot pizzas and starving supermodels. It's a dangerous relationship that can be devilishly wonderful, but if you do something stupid you're going to get burned
5 Stupid Things All New Drivers Have Tried Once

I won’t list my age because if I do, the younger CT readers will just ignore my words of wisdom. Let’s just say I’m old enough to know better, but young enough to still do it anyway. I am, after all, currently nursing a broken ankle after having delusions of auditioning for Nitro Circus on my vintage BMX bike. So yeah, I’ve had plenty of experience making dumb decisions. Some very recently.

5 Stupid Things All New Drivers Have Tried Once

And that was just a minor offense. When I think back to some of the dumb things I did behind the wheel of a car I’m in awe that I still have arms and fingers to type with, never mind actually being alive. I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of everything listed below, but I got lucky. Some of my friends, they weren’t so lucky. I’m sure someone reading this knows someone who got seriously hurt or killed because of cars. Maybe you are the unlucky one. Except you probably didn’t die, because then you couldn’t be reading this.

That’s my lame attempt to lighten the moment just a bit. There’s nothing wrong with loving and having fun with cars. I will do burnouts and carve corners until my reflexes turn to stone, at which point I’ll relegate my automotive tomfoolery to Gran Turismo 20, provided Kaz finally fixes the dumb engine sounds. If not, you’ll find me racing online in Forza 23 under the handle RallyGeezer43. When that day comes I hope all of you are racing with me. Maybe these six bits of advice can help get you there.

1. Distracted driving

5 Stupid Things All New Drivers Have Tried Once

Texting and driving isn’t a problem, it’s a symptom. I’m not saying to do it - absolutely do not. But people seem to gloss over the actual problem, which is distracted driving. Chatting on a cell phone, fiddling with the stereo, eating, arguing with passengers, all can be just as bad as texting, because they all distract you from the act of driving. If you want to be a hotshot wheelman, your number one priority needs to be driving. Otherwise you’re just a dangerous wannabe.

This is probably the toughest lesson for drivers to learn, because distracted driving is seldom understood until something happens because of it. Consider this - any time you’re behind the wheel doing something other than driving, you’re multitasking and vulnerable to mistakes. There will always be distractions, but over time, most drivers learn the proper balance of driving and multitasking. The key words there are “over time”, as in years, so start by keeping your distractions to an absolute minimum. Eventually you’ll learn the proper balance.

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This is a time-honoured teenage pastime. Parking lots mean there are people all around, and that’s the perfect place to show everyone your skillz by zipping between rows of cars. Newsflash - everyone thinks you’re a dumbass. Odds are you won’t get hurt doing such nonsense, even if you hit a car. However, if you hit and kill that little 8-year-old girl running across the parking lot, you could spend a good portion of your life in jail, never mind living with the fact that you killed someone, all for the sake of trying to make your mates think you’re cool. And you will never, ever, see it coming, no matter how good a driver you are.

3. Switching drivers while driving

5 Stupid Things All New Drivers Have Tried Once

See above about distracted driving, only multiply it by 1000. I know how much fun it is to goof around with your mates on a Friday night, especially if there are a couple ladies in the back seat you’re aiming to impress. Sure, maybe you could pull it off. I did, but I was lucky enough to not have any sudden mechanical issues, or animals dart into the road, or traffic problems, potholes, wind gusts, or incompetent passengers who pull themselves into the driver seat by grabbing the freaking wheel.

I know it seems relatively benign, but that’s the danger. You’re putting yourself, your passengers, and nearby drivers at considerable and completely unnecessary risk. Just stick to properly executed handbrake turns to impress the ladies.

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Cars are meant to be driven and/or ridden in. As in inside. Do I even need to post a video of ghostriding fails? Too late, already did. This also holds true for passengers who want to either ride on the roof while you drive through town or want to ride on something that’s tied or otherwise fastened to the vehicle. Chicks dig scars, but there are way cooler ways to hurt yourself than falling off a car. Falling off a BMX bike for example. Too bad nobody was around to see it.

5. Aggressive driving

5 Stupid Things All New Drivers Have Tried Once

Here’s something you won’t hear from any proper adult and/or driving instructor: People drive aggressively. You, as a young petrolhead, positively can’t wait to get behind the wheel and tear off like the hoon you are. You shouldn’t do it, but you will. And people around you will, even the “sensible” ones who tell you it’s wrong. Aggressive driving kills, and it kills gruesomely, but even that won’t stop you from doing it. So let me try to help you survive it.

Get experience behind the wheel in a safe, controlled environment. Don’t learn the limits of your car and your driving skill on public roads with a bunch of mates in the back. Attend a high-performance driving school if you can afford it. If not, go to open track events, even if you have a lowly diesel hatchback. At the very least find a big, open, empty space that’s not a road or someone’s front yard and experiment a bit. Do a handbrake turn and practice correcting it with some opposite lock. Turn hard to see what understeer feels like, and how to regain control. Throw your car around like a freakin’ ragdoll, just do it someplace safe and controlled. You have absolutely no idea how much you’ll learn about yourself, your abilities, and your car after even one such session.

Don’t rely on luck to keep you safe behind the wheel. Give yourself the time to learn these lessons the right way so you can enjoy cars for years to come.


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