By Lauren Ferrone
Published: Friday, September 6, 2019
Friday the 13th has long been dubbed one of the spookiest days of the year. So much so, there’s even a word to describe the fear of it – paraskevidekatriaphobia. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but with the next one looming, what better time to put together a list of superstitions motorists have about driving?
1. Throw coins in your new car
Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck. Or you could just put them in your car. Throwing coins onto the floor of a new car is a ritual originating in New York and New Jersey to bring new-car owners prosperity.
2. Hold your breath while driving past a cemetery
Feeling breathless? That’s to be expected, especially if you’re driving past a cemetery. It’s long been believed that holding your breath as you pass can stop evil spirits entering your body. You might encounter some issues if you get stuck at a red light or pass a cemetery that spans a few blocks though.
3. Scratch your new car
Yes, you read that right. The last thing most of us want is for our brand spanking new ride to be scratched. There are, however, some people who believe deliberately marking their new car will prevent car crashes. Our advice? This is a scratch we recommend you don’t itch.
4. Black cats bring bad luck
Historically, black cats have been associated with witchcraft and evil. That alone is enough to explain why many of us are dog people. The superstition that black cats crossing the street in front of you can cause bad luck originated in Japan. Some drivers even make an ‘x’ on the left side of the windscreen with their right hand if a black cat crosses their car’s path, but we recommend you keep your hands on the steering wheel instead.
5. Lift your feet over train tracks
Did you know some motorists can levitate? Kind of. Lifting your feet as you drive over train tracks could save you from an untimely death, or so it’s said. Disclaimer: we strongly advise drivers keep their feet firmly planted on the floor or on necessary pedals at all times.
6. Check your volume
When the radio plays your favourite song and you crank up the volume, do you make sure you avoid odd or even numbers? Depending on where you’re from, certain numbers are said to bring either good or bad luck.
7. Hang a lucky charm
Forget air fresheners shaped as Christmas trees. Chances are you’ve seen the odd rosary or fluffy dice hanging from a rear view mirror. Both are believed to keep drivers and their passengers safe. Take note though: you won’t be considered lucky if these seemingly harmless objects obstruct your vision. The Australian Road Rules state drivers must have a clear view of the road ahead at all times.
8. Wait for a bird to do its business
It’s a plane, it’s Superman… nope, it’s definitely a bird. Some Russian motorists believe that if a feathered friend leaves a surprise on your bonnet, you should consider yourself lucky. That said, bird droppings aren’t kind to your car’s paint job. The acid can get deep into the paint and destroy the base coating. Tip: keep a bottle of water and microfibre cloth handy to clean any ‘presents’ as soon as possible.
9. Crush lemons under your car
Well, you know what they say: when life gives you lemons… crush them under the wheels of your new car. That’s exactly what some people in India do to reduce their chances of having a car crash. Of course, there’s an alternative: leave this citrus fruit for making lemonade and just drive carefully.
10. Tap the roof of your car while passing yellow lights
Here’s a superstitious habit you definitely shouldn’t take up. Why? Firstly, you need to keep your hands on the wheel at all times and, secondly, you should always stop when approaching a yellow light, if it’s safe to do so. Find out more about the penalties for running yellow lights.
11. Honk your horn when driving through a tunnel
Tooting your horn when driving through a tunnel is believed to ward off evil spirits. That said, the Australian Road Rules state drivers must only use a horn if it’s necessary and that horns mustn’t be used to distract other road users. Our advice? Best not to fight evil while passing through the freeway’s Heysen Tunnels – or any other tunnel for that matter.
12. Park in the same spot
Just as some people have lucky socks or jocks, others swear by lucky car parks. Just remember, there are some parking spots that aren’t so lucky. Check out our story on 11 places you can’t park.
13. Don’t drive
In extreme cases, some people prefer to leave their car in the garage and avoid driving at all costs, particularly on Friday the 13th.
However you choose to spend this spooky day, drive safe. *cue creepy organ music*