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Maggie Stiefvater’s Top 10 Tips for Teen Drivers

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On Tumblr, I got asked this question:

about driving

Why, yes. Yes, I do.

1. Get a car with a spoiler. It will not add stability or otherwise do anything useful, but if you are in a fender bender, you will look cooler.

2. Learn to drive a stick shift. They might be less common in the States, but you’ll thank me when you’re over in Europe and that’s all you can rent. Plus, once you learn how to listen attentively to your engine to shift gears correctly, you’ll be a much better driver in an automatic as well. Plus, you can look lofty every time you tell someone, “what, you can’t drive a stick?”

3. I suggest a car in a bright color. It’s a safety feature. They don’t make life vests in champagne or burnished silver, do they? When you pull over by the side of the road to hyperventilate over being unable to operate this stick shift you just purchased, you’ll want to be highly visible.

4. Go to a driving school. No, no, no. Not the Carl Q. Barkley’s Safe Driver Clinic. Take a two day rally school or drifting school or racing school at your local track — usually you can find one that lets you use their vehicles. Once you’ve learned how to toss a car around sideways on purpose, you’ll no longer be fazed if it happens to you by accident on the interstate.

5. You don’t get to drive fast until you know what the hell you’re doing.

6. If you’re driving slow because you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, for the love of ponies and Honda Civics and the angels overhead, stay in the right lane.

7. If your mother or father cannot sit quietly in the passenger seat looking like a pool of endless serenity, she or he must not enter your car. Find another licensed driver to be your wingman. Here, I’ll do it. I have no sense of fear.

8. Check your tires. They should be treadful. Check your brakes. They should be stoppingness. Check your phone. It should be in the trunk or someplace where you aren’t even thinking about it. So should that Eminem tape that came in the car when you bought it. And all of your stupid friends that can’t stop giggling over Eminem. People, it stopped being funny, like, five years ago. Eyes on the road, maggot.

9. If you can’t find a driving school that is awesome, find a field and a rental car. Go wild. What you want to do is to feel how the car responds to everything you do. It should feel predictable, by the end. The goal is to be able to control the car as you’re rocketing around hillocks. I know that you’re thinking: what about lines and other cars and laws and stuff! But they’re just details. Once you can control the car, other cars won’t rock you. Nor will bumps, debris in the road, aliens, or Michael Bay movies.

10. Have fun, but always respect other drivers’ safety first. They didn’t get into their cars today just so that you could ruin their day or life. And remember that driving is so much like coloring. In the beginning, it really works best if you stay between the lines.

Maggie Stiefvater
Hi, I'm Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night. I live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dogs. I’m the author of the Books of Faerie (LAMENT and BALLAD); the bestselling SHIVER trilogy (SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER), and THE SCORPIO RACES.

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Copyright 2012