Millions of Americans still can’t drive (1922)

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Many needing auto training

Millions of Americans are unable to drive car, says expert

by H Clifford Brokaw, Technical Director West Side YMCA Automobile School, New York

Strange as it may seem, there are probably still left in America millions of persons who do not know how to drive an automobile. With some two million cars being manufactured annually, there are many new owners who must learn the art of driving from its very beginning. It is quite evident to folks who frequent our highways either on foot or in motor cars that even some who have owned their cars for some time have not yet become very skilled in mastering them.

The prospective driver seats himself behind the wheel. It is a good idea to have an experienced man by his side until he gets on to the fundamental principles of driving. One of the first things to do, of course, is to start the engine. This he does by stepping on the self-starter pedal. If there is no self-starter he will be required to get out and crank the thing.

But before starting the engine there are a few preliminary details that need attention, and they are very important too. For instance, he should place the gear-shifting lever in neutral position, put the emergency brake on, retard the spark fully, or if well acquainted with the motor, to a point where the spark will surely occur after the crank has passed top center. Open the throttle about one-third. (After getting acquainted with the machine he will find a position for the throttle where the motor will always start best.) Put on the switch. If the motor habitually starts hard, prime the carburetor.

After the engine starts, close the throttle and advance the spark about three-quarters. If the engine has been started on the battery and a magneto is used, switch immediately from the battery to the magneto. Do not allow the motor to race. When running idle, it should turn over at its slowest speed.

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Always place gear lever in neutral when the car is stopped and make sure that it is there before starting the motor. Don’t let the car stand with the motor stopped in the winter time, unless the radiator is filled with anti-freeze solution. Look the car over thoroughly after each run.

Shifting gears done poorly by average driver

The average motorist does not know how to shift gears!

This is the conclusion reached after a series of tests recently conducted by the Iowa State college in cooperation with the national research council. Especially when he takes a hill the average motorist shifts his gears improperly, find these experts.

The motorist waits too long to shift from high to second on a hill, say the observers. Thus they lose speed, overtax their engines and consume more gasoline. The general admonition, not to slow down to less than 8.5 miles an hour, they found, is rarely followed.

The tests also showed that, in descending a hill, it is cheaper to retard the speed with the brake than by leaving the clutch in.

Photo: 1922 Model 45 Buick 5-passenger touring car

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