Driving with the Dead

Ever taught a teenager to drive? What fun!


“Holy Christ, never mind the freaking squirrel, watch for the tombstones! And the trees! Sweet Jesus, there’s a turn coming up! Don’t fiddle with the freaking radio!”

Why tombstones? Because I’m teaching my kid to drive in a graveyard. I figure that way, she won’t kill anyone. Except possibly me.

It’s a semi-rural, deserted kind of graveyard, and on the rare occasion that living people show up, we stop and wait for them to leave, or else I take the wheel.

She knows the driving basics already from driving golf carts, scooters, etc., but I’m determined to teach her real driving on a stick shift, so my poor old Beetle’s clutch is getting a workout.

Please feel free to leave teen driving tips or discuss whatever.

[X-posted at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 06/08/13 at 12:22 PM • Permalink

Categories: CrittersMessylaneous

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Husband and I both drove sticks for a bit over 40 years, until we both wore out our left knees and finally accepted that automatics in small cars are actually pretty good now.  After finally buying an automatic, the daily dance is now who gets to drive it and who is stuck with the Corolla. 

Learning to drive a stick is a viable and vanishing skill though, so hang in there (at least Beetles are cheaper to fix, right?).  You never know how developing such hand/eye/leg coordination could be useful in the future.

@ String—yeah, that’s the idea; I just want her to learn on a stick so she’ll know how to drive any kind of vehicle. Our other vehicle is an automatic, but it’s a large truck built for hauling big boats. The kid has known how to drive a boat since she was a toddler!

Starting with stick is a good idea with teens, it makes them feel that driving is more complex thereby requiring a tad bit more attention.  Works for a while . . .

Betty one good tactic is to show how to drive on icy surfaces, best taught in an empty parking lot so that nothing else is an object with which to collide. It’s easy to drive on dry roads in sunny weather. Take your child out to that parking lot when it’s raining, or snowing, or icy, then teach her how to drive in inclement weather, it’s the best thing you can do to prepare her for less than optimum conditions.

If you want to do some high-speed driving lessons, I also recommending renting a car for the day, then go back to that same parking lot for additional instruction.

I flunked driver’s ed and never got my license, so…

I’m amazed at the number of adults I meet who can’t drive a stick. Yeesh…

I taught my kids to drive in shopping centers, behind the stores. Gives them good practice looking out for things popping out from the nooks and crannies. Develops awareness and anticipation of obstacles.

No major accidents and they are 26 and 23 now.

Driving stick is the best thing for young drivers- it prevents driving from seeming passive (the whole “point the car and space out, maybe send a text message” problem).  My driving improved dramatically when I started driving stick.

Also, nobody will want to borrow the car.

My husband and I had a stick in our first car, a Mazda GLC. It truly was a Great Little Car, but I remember the learning period and it was tricky. We don’t live in the mountains, but there were hills that I stalled on repeatedly until I mastered the clutch/gas balance. ;-)

Our first two vehicles were standard, but our cars were all automatic after that. Recently I had to borrow a rental car and was mildly concerned because I was afraid I would have forgotten how to use a stick shift, but it came back very easily. The bad thing was that it started to make my ankle hurt. Out of practice, I guess.

As for teaching kids to drive, we have a No Radio rule. The first thing my son does when he gets into the car is to turn music on, but when he’s learning, there is no other sound than my squeals, screams, and the thumping of my foot on the imaginary brake on the passenger’s side.

Forty years ago my dad tried to teach me to drive in a shopping centre carpark on a SUNDAY, when the stores weren’t OPEN, and he still managed to smoke 2 packs of Salem cigs in 2 hours, and NEVER tried again. And no, I still don’t have a driver’s license. And the world is a safer place.

I was a Driver’s Education teacher for 15 years & survived. Don’t yell.

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