4-year-old Trades Booster Seat for the Driver's Seat
A 4-year-old boy in Blaine, MN, traded his car seat for the driver’s seat, borrowing his great-grandfather’s SUV. At 4 years old, I can’t imagine having the understanding and capability to successfully operate a car. But little Sebastian Swenson proved himself to be a special case.
His motivation? Reese’s candy. I believe this to be one of the most noble reasons to steal a car.
As reported by Fox9 in Minneapolis, Sebastian climbed up on a walker in order to access the keys to his great-grandfather’s Hyundai Santa Fe. Craving some sugary goodness, he climbed in the car, stretching the lower half of his body to reach the pedals. Not only did he manage to back the car out of the driveway, but he then engaged drive and rolled away. I’m amazed at the coordination just this initial portion of his trip would require.
The wake of Sebastian’s destruction
I don’t remember much of anything from when I was 4 years old. My earliest memories of being behind the wheel of a car involved sitting on my father’s lap as he let me steer us down our neighborhood street. He says I was 3 at the time. A couple years later, I would figure out how to disengage the parking brake while playing in his 1984 Pontiac Sunbird. But, not actually knowing how it functioned, I ended up rolling the car down our driveway and into the street. Little Sebastian just might be a prodigy!
The pre-schooler demonstrated exceptional navigational abilities as he found his way out of his neighborhood and negotiated rush hour traffic on the multi-lane University Ave in Blaine, MN. Top speeds reached a blistering 15mph, which is fast when compared to my 4-year-old nephew Mason’s electric SUV — which tops out around 2.5 mph.
Wanting to get a 4-year-old’s take on the situation, I interviewed Mason for this piece. When asked if he thought he could drive Nonna’s (Grandma’s) car, he responded, “I don’t think.”
Relatively minor damage to the Santa Fe
One thing that Mason and Sebastian seem to share is their steering capability, or lack thereof. Sebastian managed to collect a few mailboxes and removed part of the front bumper via a tree during his journey. Despite not wearing a seatbelt, he was unhurt though his skirmishes and successfully arrived at the Speedway gas station — just as he’d planned. I hope that his family gets him a go-kart so that he can continue to develop his driving skills in a safe environment.
My final thoughts are regarding advanced driver-assistance systems and this sort of situation. Personally, I think we need more driver training, providing drivers with Sebastian-like confidence behind the wheel, without designing for Sebastian-like driving capability. With today’s commonly found semi-autonomous driving features, it’s quite possible that Sebastian may have made it to his destination without incident. He likely would have boosted his already high confidence while making no improvement to his actual capability, though.
[Images: Fox9 News]
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