ROADS REPORT: The measure of a man

. . . is judged by the children he raises-—and how well they drive

Blog Entry June 05, 2015

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Honoring dads
For many of us, our earliest memories of cars also involve our dads. 
 
When we were little, Dad would let us hold the flashlight while he tinkered under the hood.
 
Later on it was our Dad who taught us to drive, bravely riding shotgun for those early attempts at driving a stick shift, turning left through an intersection or merging onto the highway. 
 
Once we had our license, Dad would scour the newspaper for the best deal on what would become our first car, and then haggle the sales guy down even lower.
 
When that first car came home, no one was more determined to keep the hunk of junk running. 
 
And all the while, he himself was relegated to piloting the family “people mover” that his younger self would have never been caught dead in.
 
And so this month as we celebrate dads, we remember the lessons they taught us and the wisdom they instilled.
 
Force of habit
Some of the most important lessons I learned as a young driver came from the near-death experiences I shared with my Dad during my initial voyages onto highways and busy city streets. 
 
Be that as it may, research from Israel shows that kids begin to learn how to drive by watching their parents well before they have a learner’s permit. What’s more, children are much more likely to emulate bad driving habits than good ones.
 
The study found that kids as young as five can begin learning dangerous habits from their parents that they will then model themselves later in life.
 
Even from the back seat, unsafe driving habits such as speeding or talking on the phone are absorbed by children, the research found, especially anxious and aggressive tendencies.
 
The study found that dads are the most influential drivers in the family, as boys are more likely to emulate their father’s driving style while girls are influenced by both parents.
 
Unfortunately, the study found little evidence that kids soak up any of our good driving habits.
 
Expensive doesn’t mean best
Getting your first car is a true milestone in life. And while we all wish it could have been a Bentley, maybe Dad really did know better with that used Honda Civic.
 
A new study from the UK named Honda the most reliable car manufacturer for the ninth consecutive year based on “low failure rates” and a low average cost of repairs ($501).
 
Rounding out the top five were Suzuki, Toyota, Chevrolet and Mazda.
 
The annual UK study from What Car? and Warranty Direct analyzes 37 manufacturers using a “Reliability Index” to see which cars will function properly and keep passengers happy the longest.
 
On the flip side, the manufacturers rated least reliable were the ultra-luxury brands Bentley and Porsche, with average repairs running $1,012 and $1,170, respectively.
 
Hidden agenda
A major traffic jam in Dublin, Ireland, reminds us that throughout history, dads seem to have a certain innate ingenuity, even when they’re up to no good.
 
A sinkhole that opened up on a major street in Dublin this spring is suspected of being caused by a secret underground tunnel that lawmakers used centuries ago to visit bars, maybe the occasional brothel (but only because they had the best whiskey, of course).
 
City officials said that the 6-ft-deep hole in the heart of downtown was caused by an “old cellar.” 
 
However, Dublin historians like Gerry Cooley believe this could be part of a long-rumored tunnel used by 19th-century politicians to secretly travel from the House of Commons and the House of Lords to gentleman’s clubs without being caught by the media and having their sketch plastered all over the papers. 
 
The 2-ft-wide hole caused traffic chaos when it collapsed in April and was quickly filled with concrete, so great-grandpa’s secrets remain safe, at least for now. 
 
“If you dig deep enough anywhere around that area,” Cooley told the Evening Herald, “you are likely to find medieval artifacts or a part of the old 17th to 19th century Ireland.”
 
But then again, maybe it’s best if we don’t know. R&B

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