Hooniverse Asks- Who was a Better Driver, Your Mom or Your Dad?

When you were growing up you couldn’t drive, and that meant you were at the mercy of other drivers to get from point A to point Mall. And others typically meant your mom and your dad, as your older siblings would rather eat from the cat box than be seen chauffeuring your spastic ass around. So, of those two primary drivers – if that was actually the case for you – which one was the more masterful behind the wheel?
If you’re a guy, you’re probably going to say Dad, just as the ladies will stick up for mom, as the sexes like to stick together. . . um, well, you know what I mean. But lets be honest here, not everybody’s dad was cut out for wheel duty, and neither were all our moms Shirley Muldowney – much is the shame.
One thing I always remember about my dad was that when I was a snot-nosed kid, he used to smoke a pipe. Disgusting things, pipes, and their ability to contain red hot embers in the blast of an open window was comically inadequate. Inevitably, I’d be sitting behind my dad in the car, and when he’d take the pipe out and rest it in his left hand on the window sill I’d have to duck a barrage of flitting coals one of which I knew was destined to hit me square in the eye, blinding me for life. Dad also had an annoying habit of speeding up and then coasting down, always seemingly trying to hit the speed limit by average, and not steady application. I think it was because his mind was wandering, thinking about why the bowl of his pipe seemed to empty so quickly.
My mom, on the other hand, didn’t smoke. She also didn’t treat the gas pedal like an on/off switch, making driving with her less eventful and more enjoyable in a couple of ways. Mom did have a big old Cadillac Sedan De Ville that she drove, and she loved its heft and presence on the road. I always got the impression that she felt invincible in that car, and lane changes on the freeway, as well as left turns, were taken with both a sense of entitlement and impunity when mom was behind the wheel. That was kind of cool.
How about you, did you grow up noticing an difference between your parents – or the wolves you raised you – when they were in the driver’s seat? Did their skills make an impression on you and your current driving habits, and, more importantly, would you let them drive your car today?
Image sources: [Shugyou via Flickr, Sebringsprite.com]

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43 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Who was a Better Driver, Your Mom or Your Dad?”

  1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I wouldn't say that either of my parents are particularly capable drivers, my Dad has a pretty grunty car but he seems terrified by the idea of spirited cornering. It's a shame.
    In '93 Dad gave Mum an ultimatum; get a license or get a divorce. She complied and was latterly awarded a Ford Ka for her efforts, yet despite the Ka being the funnest car in the entire world she is a pitifully reluctant driver and nowadays seems to have given up entirely at the age of 55.
    Last time I was in a car with her driving, she had to talk herself through a step by step list; "Clutch in, biting point, out. Mirrors, clear. Indicate, clear, go. Second, clutch in, gear, clutch out." My god, it was exhausting. She's a primary school teacher and a wonderful one at that, but never, ever give her anything mechanical to battle against.

  2. hglaber Avatar

    Dad doesn't pulse and glide like yours, he wanders from the center of his lane (or out of his lane) then JERKS it back where it should be. CruuuissseeeeJERK. CruuuuuuuisssssseeeeeJERK. Terrible.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      I remember riding on a road trip with a friend's family where the dad always drove. The dude was not particularly skilled behind the wheel, but tailgated like crazy.
      On this trip, we'd left early and he'd had like 4 hours of sleep. While still going full speed ahead in the 2nd gen 4Runner and hanging 3 feet of people's bumpers, he was totally driving by braille off the lane bumps. Scariest trip ever.

  3. Josh Avatar

    I would have to say my Dad. He recently retired from FedEx as a courier for 27 years. In those 27 years he never had an accident that was his fault. I have never ridden with a smoother driver. This is a 100% true, one morning he left his coffee mug on the rear bumper of his 89 chevy truck. Drove the 22 miles to work which includes the interstate and the dang thing didn't fall off.

    1. Froggmann_ Avatar

      Sounds like he passed….[youtube QtuVLGeFM90 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtuVLGeFM90 youtube]

  4. Hörñéy Avatar

    I'd say both my parents are good drivers, but there's some distinction between them: My father errs on the side of caution (which can get annoying, especially when you're in a hurry), my mother errs on the side of recklessness (which can be scary at times, especially since her sense of time isn't the best and she often seems to be running late). My father, on one hand, despite hooning about in Mopars all through the years of his youth, has never had a single traffic violation in his ~35 years of driving, my mother, on the other hand, has several (including multiple crashes). I'd like to think I got a nice balance between the two.

  5. dmilligan Avatar

    My Dad. He ran a small bus line for 40 years hauling freight and passengers between two small towns in Oregon. For a great many of those years he drove 400 miles a day, six days a week. On Sundays he only drove 200 miles. He was one of the best drivers I ever met.

  6. muthalovin Avatar

    My mom drag-raced my dad's AMX before I was born.
    My dad does track days on a turbo 'Busa, in addition to the quarter mile.
    My dad has had his driving license suspended.
    My mom has not.
    My dad taught me how to do smokey burnouts by example.
    My mom encouraged me to chase down a Harley F-150 in our Lightning and smoke him.
    My parents are the most awesome people I know. They are both "good" drivers.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I was waiting to read your response. Will they adopt me?

      1. muthalovin Avatar

        Probably. As long as you like Fords.

        1. engineerd Avatar

          Dude, I have a Ford GT as my avatar. I'm a shoe-in.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      My parents come from the opposite pole of the universe, if there is such a thing. Neither of them has ever had a hoon-y or motorsport-erific impluse anywhere in their gray matter. I remember when I invited my folks to the snowmobile radar runs one winter when I lived in Minneapolis. My dad was standing in the BBQ tent in the middle of a frozen lake in his usual Sunday attire: leather oxfords, dark suit with white shirt and tie, wool-collared suede trenchcoat. This guy in a greasy leather jacket, jeans and engineer boots that was in front of him in line turned around at one point, looked him up and down for a few seconds and said, "Let me guess; you don't come to these things very often, do ya?"
      That's my dad.

  7. Froggmann_ Avatar

    Dad by far, despite driving his vehicles like his desert car only had 3 accidents in the 31 years I knew him. Only one was at fault. Keep in mind when times were busy he would drive around 2000 miles a week. Mom on the other hand, hit a lot of stuff; other cars, poles, the street, motorcyclists, etc.
    Needless to say I learned how to drive from my father.

  8. joshuman Avatar

    I am my Father's son. He has always had underpowered imported station wagons or small trucks with manual transmissions that he shifted competently no matter the surface (pavement, gravel, snow, ice). He speeds when it is safe to do so but can be impatient behind the wheel and frequently passes slower traffic when legal even if it provides no real benefit in terms of reducing travel time to the destination. I like to think I'm a bit more mellow than that but my wife might disagree. My Mother, on the other hand, is terribly distracted. She has had more driveway collisions than anyone I know. She has hit her garage door several times. She had a VW Beetle in college and I've heard stories that the fenders were never without dents despite being repaired often. She rear-ended a BMW last year because her sock got tangled in the brake pedal. A month ago she hit one of those bright orange construction barrels hard enough to trip the seat airbag on the passenger side.

    1. Plecostomus Avatar

      Same as you.
      My father drives quickly… yet I caught more of the speed bug and got faster.
      My mother drives infuriatingly slow. I drive like my dad, whereas my brother drives like my mom.

  9. BGW Avatar

    Dad was an impatient leadfoot who was very popular with the WV and Ohio State Constabulary. He practically invented Road Rage, to the degree that he stopped carrying his .38 in the car because he was afraid he'd eventually shoot someone for cutting him off. Any traffic transgression from an out of state driver was because he was a "Dumbass Maryland Sonofabitch" or somesuch. A road trip with him back in the day was what I always imagined a Coors Light-swilling, southern Raoul Duke might be like.
    Mom was (and still is) a "better" driver. But Dad was much more entertaining.

  10. Baron Von Danger Avatar

    My mom is a more careful driver but has a very light foot. My dad is not a careful driver, he flipped a couple of my mom's cars when they were dating and also crashed his MG. He frequently would get flat tires from hitting curbs, those could have been our fault though. He would be pulling the "reach back and swat at the kids with one had and drive with the other" technique.
    I have my dad's lead foot but my mom's skill. I get sideways and keep it neat.

  11. LTDScott Avatar

    My mom hasn't held a license since 1979, so that's an easy one.
    My dad's a decent driver. Not bad, not fast, just decent. The only issue I ever had with his driving was when he had cataracts about 10 years ago and was still driving with them. But he had surgery and now his vision is fine.

  12. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    My dad's had 2 fairly large accidents and a few minor ones. Picked up a few tickets, too. In typically male fashion, he goes for it, not always with the best results.
    As long as I've been alive, my mom's only had like one or two parking lot bumps. When I was growing up, she hauled me and my 3 younger siblings around in a Suburban without complication. She tows a boat with said 'Burbo with aplomb. Drives a stick without issue. Attempting to be the responsible one, she wasn't much of a hoonage instructor, but she's not shy on skill behind the wheel.
    Both have done the Skip Barber short course. I suspect that, given a couple of days on a track, they'd run equal lap times.

  13. engineerd Avatar

    Both of my parents are good drivers. Their driving styles, however, are quite different. My dad is a pretty careful driver around town. He's smooth and does most thing well. Get him on a mountain road or an interstate, though, and he thinks he's the second incarnation of Mario Andretti. He loves pushing whatever car we are in to its limit around mountain curves, or pushing cops to their limit on the interstate. Growing up, we were guaranteed two things on family vacation — dad would get a ticket somewhere in Nevada or Utah, and my little brother would get car sick in Colorado.
    My mom, on the other hand, is a very competent, yet uninspiring, driver. She does everything well, but avoids pushing the limits.
    The real interesting thing is in their choice of vehicles. Growing up, my dad had the longest commute (Riverside to LA for several years, then Ontario to Fountain Valley). So, he would always get the new car, and my mom would get the hand-me-down. My dad, Mr. Mario, always chose some of the blandest cars he could. His car choice, diametrically opposed to his driving style, was much more function over form. My first car, a 1984 Mercury Topaz, was a hand-me-down from him to my mom to me. He had a series of Saturns and a minivan. My mom, on the other hand, was finally able to get a car of her own several years ago. What did she choose? A bright yellow Nissan Xterra. Yup. She's a school teacher, lives 6 miles from work on city streets.
    It's just weird.

  14. lilwillie Avatar

    Dad for sure. Mom doesn't know how to drive.

  15. Hopman Avatar

    My dad. Hands down.
    Anybody who can handle a 45' coach in Boston traffic has major props in my book. On top of that, he did a bit of TSD rallying with his SAAB 96 (two stroke) in his younger days.
    I think I must've inherited some or his skills (or is it insanity?) because driving in Beantown with ANY vehicle does not phase me one iota.

  16. tonyola Avatar

    I would have to say about equal. Dad seemed to be a little more aggressive, which meant better time but also occasionally meant a couple of minor fender-benders. Mom was a little more cautious, but I do remember her going 85 mph on a late-night extended run on I-75 through Georgia, so she was not really afraid of speed. Also, kudos to Mom for knowing how to drive a stick – she owned a couple of old-school Beetles.

    1. Mechanically Inept Avatar

      My mom is that way, too. She normally does 5-10 under the limit, but has been known to speed voraciously if she's late getting somewhere or even if she's not paying attention. The one particularly memorable instance was when she did 85-90 on the two lane roads (55 mph limit) from Calumet to Marquette in Michigan's upper peninsula because we were late. If I'd done that kind of speed, ever, she'd take away my car keys.

  17. P161911 Avatar

    My parents met at a car accident. Mom was out with some of her girl friends driving her father's 57 Chevy (this was the early 1960s) and Dad was riding in the car with some other guys. I think it was my Dad's friend's fault.
    Dad drives 40k+ miles/year, can't remember him having an accident that was his fault, he's hit a few deer and the like. I only remember Mom having 2 incidents. She backed her Grand Marquis into my Blazer when the rear window was all fogged up. She got rear ended at speed on the interstate by an alleged run away Toyota Matrix earlier this year.
    Even now when I'm driving over the speed limit my mother will be the one saying "Slow down" while my Dad might just comment that the car has a nice engine.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      My dad met my mom when, as a young military man in Ohio, he stopped to help a young woman fix her flat tire on a rainy night. That single act of gallantry led to lots of other things, including 55 years of marriage and three sons.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        A cop's suggestion of "this would be a good time to get phone numbers" led to almost 45 years of marriage and me. They were riding in the two cars that hit each other.
        Back before I was married and without even a girlfriend for much longer than I wanted to be I considered going out in my Blazer and finding cute girls to get into a fender bender with, hey, it worked for Dad.

  18. kvhnik Avatar

    While I would say that both of my folks (in their 80's now) have always been capable drivers, it is my mom who stands out when I think of who might be "better". This is mostly due to her ability to adeptly parallel park late 60's/early 70's big American station wagons back in the day. She could whip the old Vista Cruiser or Town & Country into impossibly small spots on the side of the street. And she apparently has never, EVER taken an on road test. I only recently found this out as my normally painfully quiet father has become more talkative in his later years. Apparently my paternal grandfather "had a buddy in the DMV" and – presto! – a drivers license for my then barely-20 mom. I don't think she's had a single ticket in the subsequent 60 years.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Owning a '67 Country Sedan, I can say that the old Yank Tanks are surprisingly easy to park. The wheelbase is usually pretty short, the wheels turn to a very sharp angle, the steering's overboosted and they've got great sight lines thanks to a lack of rollover protection (thin pillars).
      No discredit to your mom, though. I love old-school how-I-got-my-licence stories.

  19. Mechanically Inept Avatar

    My dad, despite being an irritable asshole, is the better driver, and is surprisingly impervious to road rage, despite his poor self-control elsewhere. He grew up in Brussels, where he learned to drive and took his driver's test. Because private companies do the the tests in Europe, it is in their interest for you to fail and retake the test, because you pay again. So they take you to the most difficult intersections in the city, ones with hidden signs and things like that. This is all as my dad told it to me. When you're a passenger in a car with him at the wheel, you feel completely safe and reassured.
    My mom is an alright driver; she is very cautious, somewhat jerky, and doesn't exactly exude confidence. She's the one doing 60 in a 70 MPH zone on the highway, as everyone else passes her at 85, and she'll often ask me to slow down if I'm doing the speed limit. I'll give her credit for driving a Fit with a 5-speed.

  20. Maymar Avatar

    My parents are both very competent, very average drivers – my dad just does it faster (re. with the flow of traffic), so I suppose I'd have to go with him. On the other hand, when I bought my Cavalier a couple years back, they both took it out at some point, in spite of not having owned something with a stick shift since '95. My mom did admirably, my dad once tried to pull off in third gear (in his defense, he bogged the hell out of it, but didn't stall).

  21. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

    My mother is a much, much better driver than my father. She also drives like a bat out of hell, where my father doddles along.

  22. Paul_y Avatar

    I could go either way — my mom is a good driver, but not in any way a hoon. However, she did learn to drive stick in a '79 Kenworth, so major points to her for that. On the other hand, my dad is the worst backseat driver in the world, but appreciates fast cars, driving slow cars fast, class-8 trucks, and he taught my mom to drive stick in a '79 Kenworth.

  23. CptSevere Avatar

    Both my mom and dad had English roadsters way before I came along. Mom had a TR3, Dad had an MGTD, so the fact that I adore English machinery is genetic. Mom actually used to rally her TR3, she came from a family of Hoons who also raced go-karts. Dad, well, he had stories of driving the MG during the winter, of course he said he did great. Well, I was born in NYC and the folks split up soon afterwards. Dad stayed there for most of the rest of his life, and of course in Manhattan, you walk and take public transit. Mom left the city, and drives very skillfully to this day. I have fond memories of her getting me to school running late in her third husband's Porsche 912, just plain hauling ass along rural roads in Connecticut. I still enjoy driving with her to this day, she drives assertively and well, without apparent effort. My dad, though, bless his heart, couldn't drive for shit. He knew the New York transit system by heart, but went for years without driving on a regular basis, and it showed. Whenever we were together someplace other than the City, I did the driving.

    1. Mom Avatar

      Of, yeah…loved that TR3. We used to line up on the Connecticut Turnpike and run the toll booths. We'd throw the required number of pennies in the baskets and then as we tore off, would hear the sirens and lights start alarming. Great sport! We would hit 100-120 mph on the Turnpike. The Porsche was great on the back roads. Had to really watch the ruts. I would love to have a TR3 again. I'm only 70 and would still run it for all it's worth!

      1. CptSevere Avatar

        That's my Mom. Maybe she'll tell us stories of Pontiac station wagons here later on. We all love Pontiac Station Wagons.

        1. Mom Avatar

          Especially loved it when we drove straight through to Florida. Erich was ten weeks old, you were around 5, and then three teenagers. Erich just swung back and forth in his car bed, woke to eat and get a bottom change. By Washing DC you guys were asleep and didn't wake up until a pit stop at South of the Border. It was about a 25 hour drive. Phew!

  24. buzzboy7 Avatar

    My parents are far from hoons. However both drive only stick and have good taste in cars. My mom drives a practical '04 N/A Forester and my dad has a 93 Toyota PU. Also both learned to drive in the early to mid 60s. I've heard many stories of my mother driving her highschool boyfriend's 65 mustang 289(My guess from the stories and year) because he was a bad drive. I also found out by buying a 74 beetle that my father learned to drive in an early 60s beetle of his fathers. Then I bought a comet and found that his first car was a falcon. Small world, really.
    Today I watch my parents drive and I see things. My dad is probably the better driver and more capable. He, like myself, has his B class license so he can drive firetrucks. He may not be as good as some but he can back a pretty big vehicle into a pretty small hole. He also has uber amounts of skill driving in super soft sand in our little PU. He does do one thing I can't stand though. He loves to stay one gear lower than he probably should. The truck doesn't have a tach but still you know that it can hit 5th going 45+. So please, shift.
    My mom on the other hand is still rocking her plain jane class C license. She is a pretty good driver too. She understands cars more than most other things mechanical. Mainly she got it from her rocket scientist father(he was an actual rocket scientist) and from owning a chevy vega. Her only real downfall is in being a passenger with phrases like, "my brake is on already", and "the car in front of the one in front of us is turning". Yes mom, I realize this.

  25. CaptainZeroCool Avatar

    My parents are the same person behind the wheel. Same number of accidents and tickets.

  26. PowerTryp Avatar

    My Dad and it's a clear cut decision in my house hold. He had his first major accident 5 years ago after 50 odd years of driving. He dosn't use the cruise control on the highway and yet the speedo rarely moves more than 2 Km/h at any given time. He's driven highway tractors, trucks, cars, boats and flying planes was a hobby for him since highscool till he had my oldest sister. The man is the best driver I know when it comes to driving on public roads.

  27. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    My mother does between the speed limit and five over, leaves plenty of following distance, can parallel-park with ease, and daily-drives a turbo New Beetle with a manual gearbox. She's the best commuter, by far, not just of my parents but of everyone I know.
    My father… I don't really remember, but I know he was the speeder and corner carver of the two. His skills were largely honed from driving after several beers, though, so I don't know how much they count.
    My grandfather, who's really the father figure in my life, is a good driver (drives nearly as fast as I do, and has a great time in his '02 Forester when he takes it out instead of his Sable wagon). He, however, is a serious tailgater.
    I think I'm most like my uncle, who's got 17 years and four Volkswagens on me. He lives, and parks on the street, in Cambridge (Massachusetts), and manages to drive quite a bit like I do – too fast where it's safe, leaving enough distance, and never taking anything aside from a police cruiser too seriously.

  28. FЯeeMan Avatar

    My dad used to do e-brake slides in the snow on our street and pull smoothly into the driveway when I was 8. When I was in my 30's, my mom was excited because she managed to turn on the radio while driving. To my knowledge, neither has been at fault in an accident, but I took driving lessons from my dad.

  29. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Mom by a mile.
    Dad had no sense of speed or depth perception due to some sort of accident as a kid. He would start out ok, usually looking at the speedo and settling into just under 55 (the national speed limit had just gone into effect) but then gradually slow down. 50, 45, 35. Cars would pile up behind us flashing their lights and eventually honking and trying to pass. He would respond by honking his own horn yelling "Honk-honk, yeay, I've got a horn too A$$h*le!" It was embarrassing beyond belief. I once tried to figure out how to tie a string to the carb and run it to the back seat to help the guy out. I got caught. Talk about awkward. "The string? THIS string? You mean this string here?"
    And of course his lack of depth perception meant that corners up in the Sierra canyons were usually met with the rest us in the car screaming "AAHHH!" when he failed to slow sufficiently.
    He also somehow managed to hit nearly everything he tried to avoid. My Gremlin had a bent flywheel and large hole in the bellhousing from a huge bolder he hit – on the OTHER side of the road.
    In the snow, the probability of going n the ditch was inversely proportional to the difficulty of the road. At 4am on the way to the bus stop every morning we climbed a 2 mile steep, muddy, curvy dirt hill with a cliff on one side up to 4000 feet before hitting nice level pavement on the ridge. It was a white knuckle ride in that Gremlin, listening to AM radio static and waiting for the daily morning Star-Spangled Banner to come on as we climbed the mountain in snowy silence.
    Sure enough, once we got to level ground ker-plunk. Right into the passenger side ditch. Then it was a matter of waiting for him to get us from stuck to hopelessly stuck before he said "Looks like we're walkin back." Our blizzards were fairly warm so it wasn't a huge deal. Even though we WERE somewhat close to Donner summit.
    My mom on the other hand would race my uncle in his Datsun SSS up the 17 mile dirt canyon road from town, and do pretty damn good, drifting through the corners and everything. If he got ahead of us the race was usually over though, because the dust was so thick you could not see and his tailights were too tiny to follow for very long. Hers were huge so he could stick right on her bumper. I usually rode with him so it was a wild-ass ride.
    She loved to run over pine cones like a video game, and I ended changing the flat tires on her 79 T-Bird about once a week from all the old square nails she would pick up. The woman could drive. This was especially odd because she was blind as a bat and never seemed to have her pair of glasses. She once almost flipped the Gremlin trying to jump her favorite bridge while I slept in the back seat. When she came over the top there was a boulder in her lane and she swerved putting the car on 2 wheels. She saved it and I ended up doing a 180 in the back seat landing upside down. That was neither the last time she put a car on 2 wheels nor the last time she saved it.
    Yeah,, the woman could drive. The proof is in the rocks. Same road, same car. Vastly different outcomes.