Love cars and the stories behind them? Join us on the drive to automotive enlightenment in this week’s edition of Friday Fast Facts!
Fewer Than One in Five Americans Can Drive Stick
You may have seen Volkswagen’s commercial promoting their newest Jetta with an option for a manual transmission. In the ad, the driver justifies leaving the car unlocked on a busy city street by saying the car has a manual transmission. Although it’s not prudent (Volkswagen admits this in the last frame’s footnote) the numbers support the driver. According to a 2016 piece by CBS Minnesota, “only 18 percent of U.S. drivers know how to operate a stick shift.” The supply of cars with manual transmissions is shrinking according to a 2018 article by Robert Dufner of the Chicago Tribune: “in 2006, 47 percent of new models in the U.S. were offered with automatics and manuals. Now it’s down to 20 percent and dropping sharply.” No wonder it’s referred to as a Millennial theft deterrent.
When the Car Radio was Introduced, Some States Moved to Ban It as a Safety Precaution
It’s hard to imagine your commute without the aid of podcasts, Spotify or FM radio. However, drivers in the 1930s were not wild about the introduction of the car radio. They claimed music could distract drivers and cause accidents. Some even argued that music could lull a driver to sleep, according to automotive historian, Michael Lamm. According to a 2012 article by Bill Demain for Mental Floss, legislators in Massachusetts and Missouri proposed bans on car radios in 1930. In a 1934 poll by the Auto Club of New York, “56 percent deemed the car radio a “dangerous distraction.” Rest assured, dads who turn down the radio volume while scanning houses for the correct address number, you’re not alone.
Having no recollection of your drive to work or school is called “Highway Hypnosis”
Driving to and from the same place five times a week becomes monotonous. At some point, it may feel like you’re on autopilot. What you’re experiencing is Highway Hypnosis according to ThoughtCo: “highway hypnosis, or white line fever is a trance-like state under which a person drives a motor vehicle in a normal, safe manner yet has no recollection of having done so.” Some treatment options include listening to music you hate, drinking coffee and driving a manual.
Henry Ford captured Thomas Edison’s last breath
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were two of the most influential Americans in the history of the country. Their ideas continue to impact us today. They were titans of industry, and they were close friends. They frequently traveled together and were even nextdoor neighbors in Florida. Edison, older by a decade, was Ford’s role model and even inspired him to continue his pursuit of producing the automobile. When Edison’s health started to decline, he decided he wanted to give his friend something to remember him by. On his deathbed, Edison was surrounded by eight test tubes. According to an account by Edison’s son Charles: “Immediately after his passing I asked Dr. Hubert S. Howe, his attending physician, to seal them with paraffin. He did. Later I gave one of them to Mr. Ford.” The test tube is currently on display at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.