Driven by Luck: 9 Peculiar Superstitions About Cars
There’s much more to driving a car than what you learn in driver’s ed– and we’re not just talking about the wisdom that years of driving experience will bring. We all have habits that we’ve picked up from our parents and friends growing up, routines that are outside of the “rules of the road.”
Many of these peculiar habits are based on superstitions that we might not even realize. Although everyone’s driving habits are different, we bet you practice at least one of these common automotive superstitions.
- Holding Your Breath
- Yellow Lights
- Loose Change
- Green Cars
- Bird Poop
- Number 13
- Racing Rituals
- Feet Lift
- Wedding Cans
Holding Your Breath
Do you hold your breath when passing by a graveyard or travelling through a tunnel? Although this is done for many reasons (including granting wishes and avoiding disturbing the dead), it’s a common practice that many drivers and passengers follow without knowing why. You might even hold your breath as a competition!
Another practice that’s done for a number of different reasons, some drivers tap the ceiling of their car if they drive through an intersection when the traffic light is yellow–and even kiss their hand before doing so. Whether it’s intended to avoid getting in a car accident or to improve your experiences in bed, everyone who taps on yellow lights can agree that doing so is a “lucky” act.
The act of “car coining” is common among certain areas of the east coast where people (including the owner, family, and/or friends) toss coins onto the floor of a brand new car to give the driver good fortune. This habit most likely stemmed from an actual practical need: having spare change lying around if ever needed for a toll road charge.
Over the centuries, green has been considered an unlucky color in Western culture, being the shade of malicious spirits looking to do you harm. This idea now applies to green cars, as many people testify to bizarre mechanical and driving experiences while operating green cars. In fact, many race car drivers won’t operate green vehicles after infamous racing wrecks in 1911 (Lee Oldfield) and 1920 (Gaston Chevrolet) that killed drivers and crowds of fans.
Yes, some people consider a bird pooping on their car to be a sign of good fortune and wealth from the heavens–rather than a messy irritant that ruin your car’s finish.
Everyone knows the belief that the number 13 is unlucky, and that sentiment even has an influence on our travel habits. Many people believe that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day to drive–even having the inaccurate reputation of being an exceptionally dangerous day to drive–and some refuse to purchase new cars on that day or drive on roads that have the number 13 in their name. Most race car drivers avoid having the number 13 on their car.
Race car drivers have their own superstitions too. These rituals vary from driver to driver and sport to sport but generally involve doing all sorts of things for good luck or to avoid crashing. This involves everything from wearing mismatched shoes, putting the right side of clothing items before the left, and entering the car from a certain side.
This habit is not as common as some of the others but is done religiously by those who don’t like travelling over bridges. Lifting your feet while driving over a bridge (an especially dangerous practice for those in the driver’s seat) is meant to “reduce” the weight you’re putting on the bridge to lower the likelihood of it collapsing.
We’ve all been to a wedding where the bride and groom make a grand exit in a car that has tin cans tied to the rear bumper to drag along the ground. This act of noise-making is associated with the tradition of making celebratory noise and merriment for the couple out of excitement and good fortune in marriage. The practice may have originated with the old tradition of throwing shoes at the couple’s car, hoping to hit it for good luck–an act that eventually led to the shoes being tied to the back of the car.