Tell Us About the First Terrifying Time You Drove

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Learning how to drive can be a pretty frightening process. For the first time in your life, you’re given control of a machine with the capacity to give you freedom but that could also mess you up real bad if you screw up. And that’s not even considering the million different controls you’re trying to put into action.

And that’s well before Something Goes Wrong. Maybe you forgot which pedal is the brake and which is the gas. Maybe you kicked it into high gear on a patch of ice. Maybe it was rush hour and you suddenly realized that this whole traffic thing is a lot harder to navigate than you imagined.

I took driver’s training in January in Michigan. The first time we ever went out on a long drive, it was in the middle of a blizzard. Those lines on the road that let you know where you’re supposed to be? Forget about it! Traction? Who needs it!


I was fifteen and white-knuckling my way down the highway for the first time ever—and what made it even worse was the fact that the other folks I was driving with had no idea how to keep the car in one place and were frequently driving into oncoming traffic. That was the first time I ever really drove (more than just a cruise through a parking lot), and I was almost one hundred percent certain I was going to die that day. It was not the ideal way to introduce a new driver to that whole cruising thing!

So let’s hear about it. Gimme your best-worst stories. Let’s relive the moments that made us question why we wanted to drive in the first place.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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Alanis King

If I remember correctly, my mom tried to teach me how to drive for the first time in her NA Miata in a parking lot, long before I had a learner’s permit. She wanted me to learn on a stick first, but we skipped the whole “logical” approach to it (pay attention to the revs to know when to shift, feel the pedals when you’re getting into first gear instead of just trying to let off the clutch and give it gas at the exact same time and hoping it works). She’d been driving stick for like four decades at this point, so she didn’t really remember to go over all of that stuff that had become natural to her. 

Long story short, it wasn’t super terrifying because I just kept killing it. Go me!