Believe it or not

It’s Friday the 13th, which means across the Western world, some folks are undoubtedly feeling a sense of doom and dread. There are plenty of odd myths explaining the fears associated with this day, and it’s easy to get caught up. For example – about 13 minutes into writing this piece, my Internet provider went down. Guess how long it took to get back online? That’s right – another 13 minutes. Seriously. Was it a prank by some mischievous IT employee? Possibly. Either way, it can be fun to delve into the bizarre world of the supernatural, so we’ve assembled a list of the top automotive superstitions right here for your reading pleasure.

Included is what science has to say about the subject, strange rituals to perform after purchasing a new vehicle, why people tie cans to the back of their car after getting married, how to avoid deathly omens, and a variety of superstitions plucked from the world of racing.

Got your talisman at the ready? Good, then cross your fingers and read on.

Continue reading for TopSpeed’s Top Automotive Superstitions.

Driving On Friday The 13th – More Dangerous?

In 1993, the British Medical Journal published a study that analyzed statistics on car-related injuries occurring on Friday the 13th, with the goal of determining if it was indeed a more dangerous day to drive. The results were shocking – according to the study, the risk of hospitalization due to injuries sustained in a car accident increased by 52 percent on Friday the 13th, as compared to Friday the 6th of the same month.

Sounds like concrete proof, right? Not exactly.

Turns out it was all a put-on, intended as a joke by the researchers. In fact, in 2008, the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics published its own analysis, stating there are actually fewer traffic accidents on Friday the 13th, presumably because the paranoid public is driving more carefully.

New Car Rituals

There is plenty of superstitious weirdness surrounding the purchase of a new car, including the belief that a fresh ride is more likely to get into an accident because nothing has happened to it yet. To circumvent this looming misfortune, some people will actually intentionally scratch or dent their car in the hope it’ll prevent a more major incident.

Another ritual comes from New Jersey and New York, where it’s sometimes seen as good luck to throw loose change onto the floor of a new car (a.k.a., “car coining”). While odd, it’s possible this behavior stems from a more practical need, such as having a little extra money lying around to pay road tolls.

Cans Tied To The Wedding Car

This one probably comes from an old British custom wherein wedding guests throw their shoes at the bride and groom as they depart the ceremony in their carriage, hoping for good luck by hitting the vehicle. Over time, the tradition evolved to tying the shoes to the vehicle, followed by cans.

It’s also possible that the practice comes from the French folk custom of charivari, wherein a community will welcome newlyweds to their home through noisemaking and general dissonant commotion.

Delaying The Final Destination

When it comes to deeply held (yet totally unsubstantiated) beliefs, it doesn’t get much better than those surrounding death. Folks have all kinds of ideas about how to escape it, including several things to watch out for when it comes to funeral processions. Just a few would include avoiding meeting a procession head on (just take a side street), never counting the number of cars in the procession (it’s like counting the days until you die), and making sure you don’t see your reflection in a window on the hearse (you could be next!).

Another common superstition is holding your breath as you drive past a graveyard. The reason? The spirits of the dead might break back into this world, using you as a conduit!

The Superstitious World Of Racing

No matter the sport, athletes can be very superstitious people, and that’s doubly so in racing. Some drivers have a pre-race ritual that must be followed exactly in order to help them perform, down to the way they put on their clothes, the food they eat for breakfast, and the way they enter the car. Predictably, lucky charms are also rather common – for example, former Formula 1 champ Sebastien Vettel likes to keep a coin in his shoe on race day.

NASCAR has it’s own set of strange beliefs. Peanuts are supposedly incredibly unlucky, probably due to a series of accidents in 1937 where shells were seen scattered across the track, resulting in their perception as a bad omen. Green race cars and $50 bills are also considered heralds of catastrophe due to similar circumstances.

Do you have your own superstitions when it comes to cars? Let us know in the comments!

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