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Thread: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

    Should a minor teen driver have a new car? How about a fast new car?

    To me the answer seems obvious. No to both. Yet apparently, at least some parents disagree with me - because a month doesn't go by without a story popping up in the local news about a bad accident involving a kid 18 or younger driving a new car he had to have been given by his parents. Or which, at least, they allowed him to have (minors are still obliged to obey their parents until they reach legal adult status).

    Often, it is a fast new car - BMW 3-Series, import sport compact. Mustang.

    Sometimes, it's an exotic ultra-performance car - as in the case of a Florida kid (age 18) who, along with three of his friends, got killed when the 500 horsepower, $75,000 BMW M5 uber sport sedan he was driving went violently out of control at an extreme speed and basically disintegrated, along with the teenage occupants.

    Reading the obit columns I shake my head and wonder - are the parents of these kids irresponsible? Or just uninformed?

    Maybe both.

    For openers, they may not realize just how high the "performance envelope" of modern cars - even ordinary modern cars - is relative to what they grew up with 20 or 30 years earlier. For example, a current year family sedan such as a Toyota Camry V-6 can reach 130-plus mph on the top end and gets from zero to 60 in under 7 seconds. That is about as quick and as fast as most V-8 muscle cars of the 1960s.

    But the difference is the Camry doesn't feel like it's doing much at 90 mph. A '69 SS 396 Chevelle did. The sheer racket, the straining sounds of gears and tires, the vibration and exhaust noise - served as audibles that you were getting in deep and maybe ought to chill out. But the kid in the Camry feels fine at 90 - one hand on the wheel, the other texting with a friend on his iPhone.

    It's a similar story with handling and braking. New cars - even ordinary ones - have very high thresholds relative to the cars of the past. It's easy to feel like Jeff Gordon - and invincible - taking curvy freeway off ramps at 20 over the posted maximum. But when the threshold of the car's grip is reached, things (often, bad things) happen very quickly. Not only is there less time to react, because the speeds are so much higher, the end result of getting in over you head is likely to be that much worse.

    When a high-performance car is involved, the teen's odds of making it to 21 just went down another several notches.

    But - key point - it's not the cars themselves that are the main problem. It's mixing such cars with the two things that define the teenage years - inexperience and immaturity.

    That's the lethal cocktail.

    Even those with high natural ability to become exceptional drivers need time to develop that potential. Very few teens have had much in the way of formal training beyond the most basic "driver's ed" stuff - which rarely, if ever, involves skid pads and high-speed emergency/accident avoidance maneuvering. One does not begin to appreciate the physics of vehicle control - and of both the car's and one's own limits as a driver - until one has actually experienced both.

    These skills can be learned on the track - or on the street. But in both case, they take time and don't just happen. Jeff Gordons are both born - and made. Jeff was not ready for Daytona at 16. Neither is your teenage son or daughter - no matter how high their opinion of their own skills may be.

    If the heads side of the coin is inexperience, the tail side is immaturity.

    Certainly, there are teens who are responsible beyond their years. But they are the exception, not the rule. This isn't an assault on the young; it's a reality check. Teenage drivers are - and always have been - the most accident prone group of drivers, accounting for the lion's share of accidents and fatalities involving motor vehicles.

    They tend to take more risks; they are prone to peer pressure (and showing off for friends) and their judgment is not as well-formed as it will be when they are 30.

    Recent medical evidence provides some interesting data on this; apparently, the areas of the teenaged brain that control inhibitions and so on are not yet fully formed - revealing a physiological reason why teens tend to get into more trouble than adults.

    When you're 16 or 17, death is an abstraction. It is something that happens to old people; not to you.

    Finally, there is the issue of what might be called "life lessons." Will a kid who is given an expensive brand new car value it as much as the kid who had to work his tail off for years to scrounge up enough lawn-mowing and McDonalds money to buy his own car - even if it's an older, not so impressive model?

    Probably not.

    Result? The teenager who was given a car will be more likely to take chances with it; after all, Mom & Dad will buy just buy another one.

    The latter point is a value judgment - and it's possible to have an intelligent discussion about it, pro and con. But there's little that can be said in defense of giving an inexperience or immature (probably both but at least one of the two) teenager a powerful car of any description.

    Unless you're not all that concerned about your kid making it to 21.


  2. #2
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

    Great article, a must read for any parent with a teenager, here's a link to the article with pictures on the main page:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...9&Itemid=10853





  3. #3
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?




    The first car is expendable. Hopefully it will last a while and they will trade it for something nicer. I've worked many wrecks where a young or inexperienced driver did a stoopid thing and smashed the car up. Hill jumping is the one that always made me cringe when it came across the radio. I've asked a friend who is a deputy still to let me know when a bad crash happens. I intend to have my niece see it up close. Not the crash site itself but the car in impound. The one I'm teaching now is fairly level headed but she's still a teenager.

    While it's cool to have an uncle teach you to drive in a Porsche, that uncle also will tolerate NO foolishness behind the wheel. Her cousins got similar training and have very good driving records. When the weather moderates and stays dry and warm for extended periods, we will learn every part of a vehicle and what it does. I don't expect her to be able to repair it but at least she will know when someone is selling her smoke in the face. Plus, she will know EXACTLY what can break and what it can do to handling when it fails.

    I will also be buying her first car. It will be a manual shift car if I can find one with at least a drivers side air bag and fuel injection. It will also be a cheap car since their neighborhood is one that nice cars get stripped fast. While she may learn in a Porsche, she may drive a Honda. Even the Secret Service trians their agents in high performance cars, at first. Then they are expected to do the spins and such to escape in a limosine as well as a Camaro. I never dealt with the agents much since I was usually far away doing traffic work but I was impressed by what I did see.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

    I agree Eric it's stupid irresponsible stuff to give and 18yr old unsupervised use of a very powerful car, but then we used to get big bikes at age 15yrs-on so who am I to moralise?

    Rob NZ didn't even have to wear helmets until1972 and we rode in street clothes but with boots of we could afford 'em. I had a head on with a Chev Impala which turned across me and I went over the car and was knocked out and landed about 50' down the road. The driver of the car was fined $10 $5 costs (1970) but I wasn't injured except a bit of a scar where the handlebars cut my upper inner thigh, hi girls,
    occasionally I would drop a bike overcooking it in a corner but somehow knew when to drop and slide rather than ride into anything solid and never got hurt, until the big one (inattention at 60mph with leather jacket etc and helmet) and hit a 7'-high fence went over it and landed on 'old man pine tree stumps multiple injuries critical for 12 days and THEN they dscovered theree broken vertebra...

    I bet a lot die from injuries in the Third World!

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

    "While it's cool to have an uncle teach you to drive in a Porsche..."

    She's lucky!

    "... that uncle also will tolerate NO foolishness behind the wheel. "

    Second that... if we had a kid one of the rules would be that any stupid BS behind the wheel would entail consequences such as temporary loss of privileges, etc.

    I also think it's probably good policy to get the kid thinking about being 16 at 14 or so - and saving up money to put at least a partial payment into the car (or insurance) in order to have a stake in thiose wheels that might just be motivation to treat it with more respect than might otherwise be the case.




  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

    "I agree Eric it's stupid irresponsible stuff to give and 18yr old unsupervised use of a very powerful car, but then we used to get big bikes at age 15yrs-on so who am I to moralise?"

    Well, those bikes (20-30 years ago; damn, we are getting old!) are nothing compared with even lukewarm, middleweight bikes today. But I think the larger point is that just because we got away with being allowed access to machinery we probably weren't quite ready for, it ought not to follow that today's kids be allowed similar license...

    "Rob NZ didn't even have to wear helmets until1972 and we rode in street clothes but with boots of we could afford 'em. I had a head on with a Chev Impala which turned across me and I went over the car and was knocked out and landed about 50' down the road. The driver of the car was fined $10 $5 costs (1970) but I wasn't injured except a bit of a scar where the handlebars cut my upper inner thigh, hi girls,
    occasionally I would drop a bike overcooking it in a corner but somehow knew when to drop and slide rather than ride into anything solid and never got hurt, until the big one (inattention at 60mph with leather jacket etc and helmet) and hit a 7'-high fence went over it and landed on 'old man pine tree stumps multiple injuries critical for 12 days and THEN they dscovered theree broken vertebra..."

    I, too, had a number of close calls. I could easily have killed myself - or been seriously injured as you were. Most any of us could have been, in fact.

    "I bet a lot die from injuries in the Third World!"

    I don't doubt it!

  7. #7
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?


  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    No dice... link would not work for me.... :-\

  9. #9
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    No dice... link would not work for me.... :-\
    Spoiled Bitch gets a 500k car and complains because it's red

    Worked fine here folks. What a spoilt bitch, tears and tantrums because her new birthday car was red instead of blue - if that were my daughter it would have been the last thing she ever got from me - and I would have taken the car back, booted her out to fend for herself, and blamed her mother.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?


    <<I also think it's probably good policy to get the kid thinking about being 16 at 14 or so - and saving up money to put at least a partial payment into the car (or insurance) in order to have a stake in thiose wheels that might just be motivation to treat it with more respect than might otherwise be the case. >>


    Actually, she is getting training now how to fix things like a flat tire already. If I had a kid, regardless of gender, they would be out there working on their car. They would get tgheirs about age 12 and work on it themselves. Dad's money doesn't meant much to a kid but busted knuckles are a good argument for sane driving. When their buddies are out Ricky Racing, one or two chirps of tires and then thinking about having to fix it when it breaks stops a lot of trouble in the bud.
    Honk if you love Jesus.

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  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Hot wheels for your teenage driver?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Now it works. Gawd. What useless eaters. How do people that stupid get so rich?

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