If Jalopnik were to start handing out Parent of the Year awards, Seattleites Holly Johnson and her husband would have to be the top choices. They found the solution to distracted driving that we have LITERALLY BEEN PREACHING FOR YEARS — they bought their teenager a car with a stick shift. Huzzah!
Sorry to get all Sam Kinison on you like that, but it does my heart good to see this story from TV station KING5.
The Johnsons just bought their 16-year-old son Riley a Mazda3 hatchback with a manual transmission because they're worried that he, like many teens, will be tempted to mess with phone or drink ridiculous Starbucks coffee drinks behind the wheel instead of actually driving. By getting him a manual Mazda3 — an excellent car for a teen, or anyone, really — the Johnsons are ensuring that he'll stay focused on the act of driving.
Seriously, give these people a medal. Here's what Riley says:
“I'll always have my hand in the middle dash area,” he said. “I can't really drink anything, until like I'm at a stop light or anything.”
THIS. That's how it should be. Granted, Riley, the best way to drive isn't to have your hand on the stick at all times, but you'll get there eventually.
It's kind of a funny story in a way, like how the TV reporters and the parents treat the manual like some zany, anachronistic novelty. One of them even compares the car to the Model T, which is not correct at all. The fact that this is a news story at all is pretty ridiculous.
As he should be, Riley seems pretty amped that he can drive stick. At the end of the segment, he brags on the benefits of the skill, saying "Hey, I'm gonna be able to drive a Ferrari and you won't."
I don't have the heart to tell the kid that that's not really the case anymore. In the meantime, he should enjoy his Mazda3.
Hat tip to bavarianpilot!