The 7 Most Humiliating Driving Mistakes

Go on, admit it: you’ve been here.

7 humiliating driving mistakes

There’s no way to go through your entire driving life being perfect. But when the inevitable happens and you do royally bungle things, you can at least attempt to do so in the least humiliating way possible, right?

In an eye-opening report, the National Bureau of Completely False Statistics revealed that a staggering 72 percent of driving faux pas directly lead to beet-red embarrassment for those at the wheel. What’s more, 56 percent include hostile horn-honking from fellow motorists, and 34 percent feature delighted finger-pointing from witnesses at bus stops.

Needless to say, these imaginary stats are definitely too high. So to raise awareness, here’s our list of the top 7 driving blunders guaranteed to wreak havoc on your self-confidence.

Driving mistake 1: going the wrong way on a one-way street

The main plot point behind many nightmares, going the wrong way down a one-way, is a stupid driving mistake most of us fear.

What really makes your stomach drop is the fact that, unlike other driving situations, there’s no gray area here, no chance of going unnoticed. It’s the driving equivalent of toppling a pyramid of champagne glasses at Crate & Barrel — you know you messed up as soon as it happens … and so does everyone around you.

Driving mistake 2: forgetting to turn on your headlights

By contrast, here’s a mistake you can be hopelessly ignorant of for several minutes (if you’re on a well-lit road). Of course, this makes the humiliation that much worse when you finally do realize why everyone keeps honking at you and flashing their brights. There’s a singular type of shame that comes with making a fool of yourself and having no idea how long it’s being going on.

Driving mistake 3: stalling your car at intersections

As a stick-shift devotee, I can personally attest to the embarrassment and abject terror of this situation.

Just imagine: it’s rush hour and you’re waiting out a red light (a brutally long one, of course) as traffic builds behind you. When the red turns to green, you rush to accelerate. But you let off the clutch too fast, feel your car (and your heart) thud sickeningly, lurch forward, and peter to a sudden, lonely halt. If you’ve never had to pray your car restarts while hundreds of exhausted commuters hurl obscenities at you, well, good for you.

Driving mistake 4: forgetting where your gas tank is

There are numerous reasons you might forget which side of the car has the gas tank. Maybe you have a brand-new car. Maybe you’re the guy from Memento. But regardless of how you came to be standing there holding a gas pump and staring at nothing, it’s always humiliating. In fact, we recommend finding a new gas station immediately. Having to turn around and reposition while the dude delivering beef jerky laughs at you is a pain we wish upon no one.

Driving mistake 5: running out of gas while driving

It’s not the mistake itself that mortifies but, rather, imagining what it says about you. Because let’s face it, as they watch you trudge along the side of the freeway, plastic gas jug in hand, onlookers are likely thinking 1 of 3 things:

  • This person isn’t terribly familiar with the alphabet.
  • This daydreamer has no situational awareness whatsoever.
  • Seriously, you left the house in that shirt?

And they all sting.

Driving mistake 6: forgetting the parking brake on an incline

Is there anything that screams “Oh dear God no!” like the sight of someone chasing his or her own vehicle? The answer is no.

Driving mistake 7: missing (and continuing to miss) that parallel-parking spot

Even if you’ve nailed your last 99 attempts, when you hit that one tricky spot, it can get in your head. Parallel parking is a uniquely slow activity that gives onlookers too much time to stare and you too much time to think: “Why did that van park so far from the curb? … Why does my car have such a giant bumper? … And why won’t that lady and her dog move on already?!”

Before you know it, you’re a dozen failed attempts deep, hunched over your steering wheel sobbing, saying crazy things like “Who needs groceries anyway?”

Have an embarrassing screwup we missed? Weigh in with a comment below.

Related link

4 common ways to get pulled over

28 Responses to “The 7 Most Humiliating Driving Mistakes”

  1. Edie Mann
    March 14, 2013 #

    Leaving store with cart full of groceries and going up and down the aisles trying to find your car.

  2. Chris Schinner
    March 14, 2013 #

    Driving past a blatantly wide open space in a packed parking lot, then circling back around to see if it is still there (which it obviously isn't), only to have the spot taken by the car that saw you miss the space.

    The humiliation comes when the occupants of the other car make eye contact with you and give you that what-were-you-thinking look and all you can do is bow your head in shame and saunter on by.

  3. Teryn Glenn
    April 1, 2013 #

    Forgetting where you parked your car and using your panic button and alarm to find it.

    Turning onto the light rail track in Minneapolis, shamefully, thinking it was a road.

    I would like to point out that both of these incidents were made my friends and relatives of mine!

  4. Steve`
    April 30, 2013 #

    getting into the car——reaching into your pocket and finding you left the keys to start the car on the dresser—with all the neighbors setting on their porches laughing—knowing your pissed at yourself

  5. Larry Hobbs
    May 4, 2013 #

    Helpful hint: On modern cars the position of your gas tank refill door is indicated on your dash. Look for the little gas pump icon near the gas gauge. Arrow points to side of car w/filler cap.

    • michael
      January 11, 2014 #

      Thanks. I never knew that. Just looked and it's right there pointing left.

  6. crashq
    June 25, 2013 #

    Leaving groceries/soda/beer sitting on the roof of your vehicle when you leave the supermarket.

  7. Camelpuppet
    July 10, 2013 #

    Any of the previous and following mistakes, while driving a taxi cab with advertisement graphics decals covering the car in. In front of the most popular hang out at night. Leaving your keys inside your taxi cab In front of the emergency room doors.

  8. Justin Case
    July 22, 2013 #

    Driving off from the gas station with the pump hose still in your gas tank. Most are equipped with spill-proof quick connects for this very embarracing incident.

    • Jimma
      August 18, 2013 #

      Been there, done that. Only once. Pre-dawn, leaving gas station, getting onto the freeway, wondering what that long, banging thing is behind me flapping in the wind. Called Shell and asked if they were missing anything…cost me about $700 in 1990.

      • Jimma
        August 18, 2013 #

        Forgot to mention, it was a big company van with my name on the side. Only once.

      • Justin Case
        August 21, 2013 #

        For that price, next time don't call Shell, they'll figure it out

      • Tim O'Sullivan
        September 7, 2014 #

        Been there. Luckily they have breakaway hoses nowadays. While I fumbled an apology out the humiliation was compounded by the attendent's dismissive "Just….go…."

  9. Lynn
    July 26, 2013 #

    My brother-in-law walked out of a store, found his car, got in, only to realize that he was in the wrong car, and the lady in the passenger seat was scared out of her mind. Needless to say, he apologized and explained that his car looked exactly like hers! My sister was laughing hysterically as she the whole incident from their car!

    • rather not say (my S-I-L might see this :-)
      October 10, 2013 #

      Top this: In the middle of an argument, my sister-in-law got dropped off by her husband to pick up a few groceries. (a common practice, when it's really cold out) She's fuming about whatever and when she gets back in the car, let's him have it… "And another thing that drives me crazy.., etc."

      2 or 3 minutes go by before she realizes she's yelling at the wrong husband!

      They're still married and both laugh telling the story…

  10. Amber
    August 13, 2013 #

    I was walking through an Icy parking lot to the mall I worked at as a teen one night, looking down to watch my step. I Unlocked The Car and got in, only to realize that the car wasn't mine after climbing in! It wasn't even the same kind of car! I jumped out and relocked the car,looked up to see a cop that was stationed at the mall standing there watching. He turns and looks at my car which was actually parked next to his police car in the next row, and asked me if I had really unlocked that car with my key. Good thing he already knew me!

  11. cyrus
    August 13, 2013 #

    Today I was driving my friend home from school. When I got to an intersection to go from the left lane to make left turn through the intersection, the lights were green for left turn and forward. I was waiting for the lane diagonal to me to drive forward, but everyone was waiting for me to make the turn while my friend was yelling at me to go.

    Mistake: Not realizing you have the right of way

  12. cyrus
    August 13, 2013 #

    Another time. Last year when driving back from school, I saw one of my friends walking on the sidewalk. I open the window, stick my head out, yell WOOOOOOOO, and then realise i accidently drove onto the wrong side of the two-way road when a car was approaching towards me. Luckily i changed back lanes at the last second.

    • Justin Case
      August 21, 2013 #

      This one time, at band camp………

  13. ben
    August 19, 2013 #

    Running a red light after so long red all the traffic from the other directions had gone
    Taking a turn in a corvett at 14the miles an hour while being passed by a grand am doing 50

  14. Margaret
    September 18, 2013 #

    Getting into the wrong car in a parking lot and wondering where your bag is and who moved stuff before you realize that you're in someone else's car. Then having to look around to escape before anyone notices what you've done! I think that I was in that car for a full two minutes!!

  15. Josie
    October 20, 2013 #

    Trying to start the car that is already running. Love the awful grinding noise.

  16. Aaron
    December 10, 2013 #

    In a manual, putting it in gear and trying to pull off from a stop. You push the throttle and realize the car is still off. I've done this too many times.

  17. derek
    December 12, 2013 #

    Driving my friend's car with no power steering and making a 10 point u-turn in a narrow driveway.

    On a motorcycle, doing a lazy upshift and thinking you're in 2nd gear and giving it gas only to realize you're in neutral and revving loudly being a hardass.

    Getting so into my text messaging and email that I dont realize the cars in front are long gone and the traffic behind is patiently waiting without honking! Oh God! How long was I sitting there?! Maybe the car in my rear was doing the same thing lol.

    Trying to make that oncoming exit off ramp coming up in a 1/4 mile and you're in the car pool driving by yourself hahaha, and then crossing over the double yellow lines and plowing through 4 lanes of everyone's lives to make that exit only to miss it by a cunt hair. Then you get off the next exit which is seemingly about 20 miles away. Then having to speculate your way around back as you GPS new routes on your phone to get pulled over!

  18. Kony
    January 23, 2014 #

    Leaving Wal-Mart, jumping into a yellow Camaro and putting the key in the ignition and wondering why the dang thing won't start. Look around for a couple seconds, notice another yellow Camaro and then suddenly, it's hits you. You're in the wrong car looser!!! OMG, aside from embarrasing, how stupid is that LOL??? Gosh!!

  19. Marina
    April 2, 2014 #

    I think the most common stupid (and illegal) mistake I see is texting and driving and not noticing that the car in front of you have stopped at a red light/stop sign/pedestrian crossing and rear ending it. Though from what I see, people are anything but embarrassed by doing this; most seem convinced it was somebody else's fault.

    But to take the price (without causing injury or property damage) try to top this: Leave the house in the morning (as the last to do so), lock the door behind you. Get into the car, start it, turn on the lights. Remember that you forgot something. Get out of car (don't turn off ignition!), close (and lock) the car door. Now you find out that you left the house key in the car. AND the phone!
    Oh, and the tank is practically empty.

  20. marty
    August 16, 2014 #

    Locked keys in new Buick. left Buick running, this was in Dallas. burned almost a full tank before returning to car..
    which was, miraculously, still there, still running…all this while wearing police uniform. it just doesn't get more embarrassing (or funny!)

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