photo: Courtesy of Tri-Star Pictures © TriStar Pictures, Inc. and MRC II Distribution Company L.P.

Hollywood Stunt Driving Lessons

By Misty Harris

Watching a Hollywood car chase with a driver education instructor is like watching Backdraft with a firefighter: where you see fire, they see smoke and mirrors. But in the case of Baby Driver, whose breathtaking opening chase was best in class among 2017’s flicks, all the driving was real—no green screen—and often performed in a single take. How can you critique that?

If you’re Ron Wilson and Rick Lang, two top dogs at AMA Driver Education, it’s easy. Because no matter how innovative the driving stunts (180s in and out of a tight alley!), almost all of them are in violation of Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act. And they certainly wouldn’t pass muster in a road test.

Just for fun, we asked Ron and Rick to share their thoughts on the movie’s opening scene (the chase starts at 2:25 in the clip below).

Ron Wilson: The driver backs up way too fast—it should be done at walking speed—and he doesn’t check behind him until the vehicle is in motion. That’s at least a 20-point deduction.

Rick Lang: It’s common courtesy to let your passengers know you’re about to reverse when they’re expecting you to go forward. Is there no honour among these thieves?

RW: I don’t see any seatbelt use, either. Seatbelts aren’t just the law, they give drivers more control when making sudden forced maneuvers. They also help prevent you from being ejected—which is especially important here, since I doubt bank robbers have health benefits.

The keys to success for young drivers in Alberta

RL: The driver’s heel-and-toe brake, accelerator and clutch control could be a little smoother.

RW: And there’s no adherence to traffic lights, which is an automatic fail on a road test.

RL: He’s obviously not yielding for police sirens. Though I suppose pulling over would mean a much shorter movie.

RW: Ah, the Hollywood parking-brake turn. It’s much more effective to swerve around something in a straight line with a simple steer. Getaway drivers are always so extra.

RL: His mechanic will be talking to him about vehicle abuse. All that hard acceleration, cornering, curb jumping and braking is incredibly tough on a car’s tires and suspension. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times: Stop to inspect your vehicle’s integrity after driving over a police spike belt.

RW: As you know, AMA recommends taking corners at 15 to 20 kilometres per hour in urban areas—about 100 kilometres less than the driver here. If you enter a turn too quickly, and are forced to brake in the curve, it can cause the vehicle to skid sideways and potentially roll. Has he learned nothing from playing Grand Theft Auto?

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RL: I see no road etiquette here, either. The least he could do is throw out a courtesy wave after cutting people off.

RW: I do love a good courtesy wave.

RL: He could avoid a lot of last-minute braking and maneuvering by scanning ahead. We encourage drivers to look up the road 1.5 blocks. In Edmonton or Calgary, that’s roughly the distance from one Tim Hortons location to another.

RW: I could go on about the dangers of crossing double-solid lines, not signaling intent and poor shoulder-checking, but let’s face it, this guy, talented as he is behind the wheel, isn’t passing Driver Ed based on this chase.

RL: Agreed. I guess I’m left with just two questions: How did he find a main-level stall in a downtown parking garage, and where did his passengers dispose of their full car-sickness bags?

Driver discount: Take driver’s ed with AMA to develop skills, amp up driver safety and score insurance savings. Upon successful completion of a course, students receive a discount of up to $200 toward the cost of AMA Auto Insurance.

Cheaper (movie) chases: AMA members save on movie tickets for Cineplex and Landmark Cinemas when purchased at AMA centres.