4-year-old Trades Booster Seat for the Driver's Seat

Anthony Magagnoli
by Anthony Magagnoli
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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2 of 18 comments
  • -Nate -Nate on Jun 17, 2019

    Glad the kid wasn't hurt no ran over anyone . -Nate

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jun 20, 2019

    My friend's kid is 5 and he's been calling me for computer help with stuff since he was 3, so I don't see what would be so difficult about getting into a car and driving. Like me when I was 3, he could read fine, and most of his calls were "How do I do......?). Or he's telling me about some airplane video he found or asking me if I had any good ones for him to look up. Russian car wreck videos are becoming one of his favorite things to look at to. His dad can take the blame for getting him hooked on those.

  • MrIcky Knowing how much abuse these get, it's amazing to me how many are still on the road.
  • 2ACL I have a soft spot for the Neon SRT-4 despite it making my Si look like a BMW in terms of refinement. That said, I'm with the detractors in feeling this specimen has too many question marks for the money desired. The seller's lack of long-term storage precautions along with the 'more power!' mentality of his build really saps my confidence in the lifespan of this car. Just let him junk it unless you're a master wrencher on the hunt for a challenge.
  • Jbltg Had a 1977 in brown with beige interior, two door. Great fuel economy. Little crappy plastic sheeut parts broke. I was in college. Who knew how far it would have gone had I given it better care. The electronic fuel injection was helpful for my bad maintenance. Do remember having to replace a distributor cap. Wish I still had it! Fun to toss around. Yuge cargo capacity with rear seat folded.
  • Jeff I worked with a lady during the Iranian Oil Crisis of 1979 that bought a new 4 door diesel Rabbit. I remember it got 40 mpgs and the reason she bought it was at the time you had to wait in long lines to fill up your vehicle with no guarantee of getting gas or diesel. I she had a late 60s model IH Travelall that she held onto for towing her boat when she and her sons went boating. Those old Travelalls were gas hogs but they were stout vehicles and great for towing.
  • SCE to AUX If it wasn't for 'government intrusion', there would be no inspection record and this fellow would be living free.Instead, the government locked up a businessman just trying to make a living./s