We asked you when you were most out of depth behind the steering wheel earlier this week. Commenters shared stories from perilous long-distance moves to novice moments at the helm of unusual vehicles. No one is born with an innate ability to drive, and we all have to learn somehow, but for a lot of people, it’s a trial by fire. Without further ado, here are your most out-of-depth driving experiences:
Tokyo Drift At Home
I didn’t cause any damage BUT... one day coming home after a quick haircut in the morning, it’s raining lightly, roads are slick. A genius idea pops into my head, “hey why don’t you pull the e-brake around the corner by the house and do a sick drift around it?” - My brain to myself.
Sounded good at the time, I hit the e brake going maybe 15-20 mph around the corner. I ended up doing a 180 and facing the opposite direction... Luckily i didn’t hit anyone and didn’t get hit by anyone either. I laughed about it, but realized maybe don’t try and drift in wet weather and definitely don’t rip the e-brake like tokyo drift when you’re only going 20
Submitted by: cargone!cargone!
Never Have To Parallel Park
I would say that it’s one you mention, parallel parking. For me it’s simply a frequency of use thing. I’m 40 years old and have never lived anywhere I’ve had to parallel park on the regular. Even when I go to one of the downtowns in my area there are usually enough open spots where you don’t have to do the driver’s test version of parallel parking. I’ve had to do that at most 10 times in a real-world setting in my 25-year driving career.
Submitted by: panthercougar
The Right To Rent A U-Haul
Driving a huge box truck. Seriously, how can a random idiot with a Driver’s License just go rent a 27 ft truck and drive it around? It’s not remotely the same as a regular car or truck. I was properly terrified of the thing and was super cautious, but not everyone is like that.
Submitted by: Give Me Tacos or Give Me Death
Trouble In Salt Lake City
Moving from NYC to SF, driving a 1999 Jeep Cherokee (XJ). We had literally everything we owned in a 6'x12' UHaul trailer. The XJ is not rated to tow a 6'x12', btw.
I’m 100% certain the trailer outweighed the Jeep by a fair bit. I had never towed anything, even a gardening trailer, before in my life. The route is a straight shot on I-80 all the way across the country and we have no problems until coming into Salt Lake City.
It’s a fairly long, steady downhill into town. I don’t realize it at first but our speed is slowly creeping up until I notice that the trailer is pushing the Jeep. Trailer wobble begins after I tap the brakes (pro tip, maybe don’t do that in this scenario) and I find myself having to speed up a little bit to keep it in line. Rinse, lather, repeat, for way, way too long. By the bottom of the hill I’m doing 85-90, can no longer feel my hands because I’m white knuckling the steering wheel and need a bathroom *very* badly.
The rest of the trip was spectacularly unremarkable. Made it across the country in a little over 5 days to start a relatively happy 10 year stint in the Bay Area. But I almost didn’t survive SLC.
Submitted by: IstillmissmyXJ
Near-Miss In A Cavalier
When I was 19 I was in my first year of college which was located basically in the middle of nothing. There are lots of empty back roads you can do whatever on, no one will catch you. So I was driving pretty quickly down these back roads in my Z24 Cavalier when I come to a curve in the road and think, “I can take that at this speed” whatever speed that was, I don’t recall. But I start into the turn and realize, “no I can’t take this at this speed” and I hit the brakes and make the back end come out around to the front. I end up drifting if you will, with my front bumper sliding across the guardrail on the inside of this curve and come to a stop perpendicular to the road.
I would tell people some mad man came into my lane and made me loose control into the guardrail to explain the huge scrape across my front bumper haha.
Submitted by: jstump
The Parents’ Land Cruiser
In 1974 my family had a Toyota Land Cruiser, the one with the sideways facing rear seats. I took 5 of my friends, one of whom was 19, the legal drinking age in AZ at the time, to the liquor store to buy a keg, and then to a desert party.
After the keg was largely depleted, we went home, but not before I decided that it would be fun to tear along a dry wash on the way back to the road. I came around a corner and was faced with the choice of a large (i.e. knee high) rock or a tree. I chose the rock and we went up on two wheels, Joey Chitwood style, for about 50 ft.
I drove about 25 mph the rest of the way home and dropped my friends and the keg off.
The next day, I waited until my parents left for work, skipped the first few periods and went to an alignment shop, hoping to fix the damage before my parents noticed.
The alignment was perfect and no suspension damage.
Submitted by: lapsrus
Bit Off More Than You Could Chew
How about riding? After about 6 months of started riding motorcycles I joined a local sport bike riding group, I thought, I’m a fairly decent rider, so on my very first ride I joined the fast group (we broke down the riders to fast riders, normal riders, and “sniffing flowers while riding” groups). I kept up with the group for a bit, but then we hit a more technical section of the ride, and sure enough, I met my riding skill limit, stood the bike up during a turn, went off the road and crashed. Thankfully my ATGATT saved my hide, pun intended (my left glove and left boot got destroyed, but my hand and foot stayed intact, with no injury). Bike was ok too, other then a broken shifter, dented tank and some scratches.
Lesson learned, the next ride I joined the flower sniffers, and slowly worked myself up to the fast group, much, much later. Since then I ran a bunch of rides myself, and in our pre-ride brief, always emphasized for everyone, to ride within their skill/comfort zone.
Submitted by: towman
Rusty Rider Hops Retaining Wall
Back when I was shopping for my second motorcycle. The first one I had about 8 years before and hadn’t ridden a bike since then. I was looking at the Harley Sports - 883. The sales girl talked my fresh-out-of-college self into a test drive on a 1200 Nightster that had some performance stuff done to it (too long ago to remember what). Point is, I thought, “it’s a Harley, it’s a cruiser and probably slow” and my very rusty/lack of experience meant I was in over my head and didn’t realize it... until I gave it some gas to get out of the parking lot, shot across the road, somehow jumped a 3 foot stone retaining wall, just missed hitting a massive old tree, and managed to grab the brakes in time to keep from going face first into the back of a semi trailer sitting in the parking lot on the other side of the street. Sitting there, I took a breath and looked around to see if anyone saw what happened, then noticed that the badly fitting helmet they gave me for the test drive was hanging from a low tree limb. I checked to see if the bike was smoking or anything really noticeable was wrong/damaged, it seemed ok in my “expert” opinion. So I very slowly rode to the tree, gathered the helmet, slowly rode across the street to the dealer, parked the bike, quickly found the sales girl and gave her the helmet, said I wasn’t interested, then left as fast as I could without looking suspicious.
Submitted by: SlickS30r
First-Time Truck Driver Bought A Fire Truck
Last year I bought a vintage fire truck sight unseen and drove it home 300 miles across two states. I’d never driven a truck before. Talk about white knuckling it.
And before you ask, no, you don’t need a CDL to drive a fire truck in either of these two states. It’s treated the same as a large RV. No special licensure needed.
Submitted by: SumGai77556
Legacy Walled At Racetrack
More than 10 years ago, I took my then girlfriend (now wife) to one of my track days and I finally made my way from the intermediate to advanced group at Summit Point. It was a rainy day and the track had already claimed the quarter panels, bumpers, and fenders of an M3, NSX, and Ford GT. Meanwhile, I was driving circles around much faster cars in my Subaru Legacy Spec.B because of the excellent AWD system and decent suspension tuning for the track.
I started off for the first time without an instructor on board and I was weary of my nemesis turn, I believe turn 6, where you have to keep on the gas lightly otherwise suffer from the dreaded lift-throttle-oversteer. On my second lap, I let off the gas a bit too much and I continued rotating and lost control, making at least one revolution in the mud before hitting the tire wall. Fortunately, I had slowed down enough that my damage was superficial and the airbags didn’t’ deploy, but pretty much every part on the driver’s side of the car was damaged and the interior was covered in mud (windows down, even on rainy days).
I was able to limp the car back to the pit and my girlfriend was relieved to see I was ok and was sympathetic since she knew I was upset at myself. After cleaning the interior out as best I could, I somehow drove the car back home with the steering wheel centered at 9 o’clock. After about $4K in parts and a month of cosmetic surgery (thankfully I found a shop that was willing to repair instead of replace most of the damaged panels), the car was back to new but my driving ego took much longer to recover.
Submitted by: oddseth
Spinning A BMW M3 In A Downpour
Around 2012/13, I had purchased a 2001 E46 M3. Overall, I loved and still miss this car, it was relatively easy to work on and didn’t quite break the bank, always looked great. But underneath, this car seemed to have a bad aura about it through the years I owned it. I gave it the nickname “BadKarma.”
The day I drove it home, literally on the first drive, a medium size dog bolted out into the road and the front bumper/fog lamp got smashed out. I never found the dog, I’m guessing it ran off because I wasn’t going very fast. Over the years, I would smash that same corner multiple times. Random tires in the middle of I-75 at 3am. Parking barriers. One drive the fog light (along with bulb, wiring ballast, etc) decided to fall out and ran it over.
The car had a tendency to bite back, but usually not when I was expecting. Getting on the throttle hard, I could easily point the car where I wanted it to go, however making a regular left from a stop light (especially on a wet day), I might end up in a wrestling match with the back wheels. I’ve probably 180'd it once or twice. Ended up in the grass once.
The last day it ever drove, I was taking a friend home late at night. Rain was pretty bad and I decided it best to keep all the stability controls on and drive with caution. There were sections of the drive I could barely see up the road from all the rain. Scenic Highway in Pensacola is a relatively bendy and hilly road, it’s a great driving road when the weather permits.
I don’t remember much of the actual event that caused it, but I must’ve hydroplaned near the top of a hill. I remember going up the hill and coming down backwards and spinning. I tried to get it back, but it was a slow losing battle as my spinning car slowly made its way off the road and into a pole. Luckily, it was a light impact and I wasn’t injured, but the car was totaled out by the insurance adjuster.
Submitted by: Ninety-9
Sweating In A Friend’s Alpine In Japan
I was a month into my new life as an English teacher in Japan and had never lived abroad which is thoroughly overwhelming and challenging, everything feels like a struggle. As anyone paying attention is aware, JDM cars are right-hand drive which means shifting manual transmissions with your left hand. Japanese people drive on the left side of the road and their country is full of traffic circles, an oddity for Americans and treacherous if you’ve never done it before.
One of my first friends outside of my job at Aeon was Kondo, a cool guy with a right-hand drive Renault Alpine. We’d gone for a few drives with me as a passenger in the Hakone National Park region on roads renowned for drifting opportunities well before it became a fad in the States but I’d never driven a car on Japanese roads. One evening on our way back to Kōzu he surprised me at a gas stop by tossing me the keys and insisting I drive. Not being one to back down from a challenge I accepted ...
Five minutes later we were home. I’d somehow managed to not mangle the transmission, not have a head on collision, not smash cars in a roundabout and not black out from traumatic levels of information overload while driving. In those five minutes I fully sweated through my shirt and white knuckled the steering wheel, driving as fast as my brain could process all the unfamiliar inputs: granny speed. I probably looked either intense or pathetic or intensely pathetic.
Since then I’ve bought a Nissan Pao which is my daily here in the States. We recently visited the UK and rented a Vauxhall with a 6-speed and drove it over 700 miles from Edinburgh to the Isle of Wight so now it’s all muscle memory and only a bit of conscious deliberation. My trial by fire in Japan made any other driving challenge seem simple in retrospect.
Submitted by: Piston Slap Yo Mama
Hitting The Lights In An MGB
Driving home from college in Utah to my Iowa home in 1967, 1200 miles non-stop (as a student funds were “limited”), in my ‘66 MGB which was purchased with money saved during my 2-year draftee stint in the Army. It was about 0200 in the morning on a 2-lane and pitch black (new moon). With an overdrive it cruised very nicely just under 80. Came up a slight grade and over the top came an approaching car. Hit the floor-mounted dimmer switch and ALL the lights went out. I mean ALL the lights. A 4.9 on the pucker scale. Off the gas, lightly on the brakes, and firm on the steering wheel. Once stopped my flashlight revealed the wire connector on the dimmer switch and come off. Back on and everything was fine, but the memory is firmly implanted and pops up from time to time when driving.
Submitted by: JIm
Crushing My Mom’s Car Outside My Crush’s House
When I got my license at 16 I thought I was invincible and drove like a maniac. Having never been in an accident it’s almost as if I felt the car had a magic force field around it. One afternoon after school I was terrorizing the backroads and decided to drive by the house of the girl who I had a crush on. Since I was busy staring at her house in hope of a quick glimpse of her I didn’t see a work van at the intersection rolled the stop sign and perfectly t-boned the van. Well, I did get the attention of the girl I liked as she came out of the house, along with her parents, to see the big car crash outside. Her mom was nice enough to call my mother as I was freaking out. On the bright side I ended up dating the girl for a while. On the downside my mom’s new car was in the bodyshop for almost three months because parts had to be shipped from Japan. Didn’t matter much to me because my parents took my license from me for six months. My takeaway?... cars will crash if you let them.
Submitted by: 17 Seconds
The Airport’s Big Forklift
I used to load aircraft at PHL back in the early ‘90s.
One night, the crew that I worked on finished up early (i.e. on time, for once) and we all headed back to the shop to clock out. I had just come out of the locker room after changing and washing up when I heard the radio in the office beep.
I was the only one around, and I was going to ignore it and go home, but something made me answer.
The voice on the other side was the lead for the other crew. He told me their forklift blew a hydraulic line and to have someone drive the other forklift down to their aircraft at the far end of the airport.
Since there was no one else around, that someone was me.
Now, I had driven the small propane-powered lifts inside the warehouse before, but I had never handled the 15,000 lb diesel-powered big boy we used on the ramp. But, how hard could it be, I thought.
I put on my headset and crank up the diesel engine. Even with the headset, the noise from the engine was loud as hell.
Second lesson - airport tarmac is not nearly as smooth as a concrete warehouse floor and the only suspension is your gluteus maximus so every bump and crack gets transmitted from the wheels directly to your spine.
Lesson #3 - There is absolutely no protection from the elements, so even at a modest 10-15 mph on a 50-degree night, the wind chill cut right through my street clothes. Less than a quarter of the distance to the other end of the airport, I wished i had taken the time to go back in the locker room and put on my jumpsuit. My hands quickly went numb.
Lesson four: A 15,000 lb forklift does not handle like my ‘82 Mustang; I took a curve too fast and thought I was going to flip the thing.
By the time I got to the far end of the ramp, I had had enough of the big lift and was happy to turn the keys to the team lead. I had to wait 20 minutes to catch a ride back to the shop on one of the tugs.
When the boss approached me the next night asking if I wanted to get qualified on the big lift, I politely declined.
Submitted by: Earthbound Misfit I