If I were to run for president of the United States, which is impossible for a number of reasons even before we get to the Constitution’s requirements for eligibility, my transport policies would be threefold: Increased speed limits on American highways, repeal of the infamous Mercedes law and crucially, every citizen acquiring their driver permits must spend the first six months of their driving days in a beater.
We complain a lot, us gearheads, about the appallingly poor standards at which seemingly everyone else on the road is driving. Or rather, doing anything else besides driving. Texting, putting on makeup, instagramming about the fact that they’re driving, all the things that are only punished when the offending driver actually crashes thanks to it. And you can’t actually teach focus at a driving school; so to counter this problem why not force them to drive beaters before getting a proper permit?
Now when I say beatter I don’t mean “granny-driven 1999 Kia Sephia that was maintained religiously but the paint is peeling because of age” I mean pre-prepping LeMons style beaters. I want every new driver in a 1994 Grand Am that has seemingly never had a bushing replaced in its life running on four “Ditchfinder” tires (all from different no-name brands) all inflated at four different pressures. A suspicious knocking noise from under the hood may also be present. That way when Young Billy thinks it’s a good idea to check if someone has liked that picture he posted of that amazing sandwich while driving, he will be stopped by the fact that if he so much as thinks about taking his hands off the wheel the car will dart to the side of the road and likely make bits of him a permanent part of the landscape. And if Young Amy has heard the beep indicating her that Billy posted that sandwich picture he promised she won’t feel the need to answer it right away, because her assigned car has cooling problems and she’s too busy checking the road and the temperature gauge so she can pull over and top the radiator again lest she fries the damn thing.
She won’t want to do that as her permit is entirely dependent on the beater surviving at least 2,000 miles of driving in her hands. Each beater would be assigned with a small pamphlet about basic maintenance. If Billy delivers the car back having found out that the reason it wanted to go sightseeing was because the tires it had were six years old and inflated at 20/25/19/35 PSI and he got a new set, he gets a tax break. The same if Amy replaces the split coolant hose on hers. It won’t make them shadetree mechanics by far but at least it’ll teach that cars need maintenance and don’t work by magical fuel-addicted pixies.
Some inattentive drivers will slip through the cracks, I admit. They could loan the car to someone else or just take it to a pro mechanic the second that they get it so he fixes everything that’s wrong with it. But it would still mean that the number of attentive drivers that know to check the fluids and that driving a two-ton block of metal down the road is actually a big responsibility would increase. Maybe even some of them will embrace the ways of beaterdom and enjoy fixing things themselves. So we’d have more attentive drivers, a use for beaters besides gently decaying back into the earth and the number of people that saw cars as more than a necessary evil would stand a chance of increasing. I can see nothing wrong with that.
What’s that? The inevitable ones that will ignore the warning signs anyway and become casualties? Well I did tell you I couldn’t run for president.