This page collects some short stories about cars, trucks, vehicles, road trips, driving and car accidents. There are separate sections for car accidents & road trips/driving. There’s overlap between the categories, so you might want to check out all of them.
Short Stories About Cars & Vehicles
“Duel” by Richard Matheson
Mann is driving to San Francisco for an appointment. He passes a semi pulling a trailer. Shortly after, the semi roars past and abruptly cuts in front of him. He’s not sure what to make of it. He has to slow down a bit. He doesn’t have any spare time. Mann decides to pass again.
This is the first story in the preview of Duel: Terror Stories. (7% in)
“Test Drive” by Ben H. Winters
Billy, the manager of the dealership, is out on a test drive in a minivan with Steve. Billy is talkative as he lays his sales pitch on thick. Steve hardly says anything, but Billy’s confident he’ll close the deal. As they near the end of the drive, Steve does something unexpected.
This story can be read in the preview of The Highway Kind: Tales of Fast Cars, Desperate Drivers and Dark Roads. (19% in)
“Shifting” by Ann Beattie
Larry and Natalie have known each other since they were ten and are now married. Larry is organized and follows a schedule. Natalie is more imaginative, and has her own interests. When Natalie inherits a car, they have different ideas about what should be done with it.
“The Chase” by Italo Calvino
The narrator is in a car chase: he’s being pursued by an armed man in another car. They are separated by several cars, stopped at a traffic light. The narrator muses about their relative positions and his possible paths of escape.
“The Red Convertible” by Louise Erdrich
Lyman Lamartine’s brother, Henry, goes to war in Vietnam and returns three years later a changed man. A red convertible was important to both of them.
“What Is It?” (or “Are These Actual Miles?”) by Raymond Carver
Leo is in debt and his creditors are closing in. He needs cash. He sends out his wife, Toni, to sell his convertible. Toni takes her time dressing up. Leo is worried the lots will close. They go over the details of what needs to be done.
Read “Are These Actual Miles?” (PDF)
Short Stories About Car Accidents
“Mulholland Dive” by Michael Connelly
Detective Clewiston arrives at an accident scene. He’s an accident reconstructionist. He handles all the Mulholland Drive fatalities. It’s late; he’s been called in while off-duty. A car has gone over a precipice and the driver killed. He was a known and rich man, so everything has to be done thoroughly. Clewiston starts analyzing the scene.
This story can be read in the preview of Los Angeles Noir.
“Car Crash While Hitchhiking” by Denis Johnson
The narrator is soaking wet from sleeping in the rain by the side of the road. A salesman had shared some pills with him and, after that, a college student shared some hashish. He hitches a ride with a family of four.
This story can be read in the Amazon preview of Jesus’ Son: Stories.
“Balto” by T. C. Boyle
Mr. Apodaca, an attorney, is talking to Angelle, almost thirteen, about how there are two kinds of truths. Her father was arrested and his car impounded. There are witnesses who will have their version of what happened, and Mr. Apodaca wants to be sure Angelle’s version is the right kind of truth. Her father had been at lunch with Marcy that day and was late picking her up. He seemed a bit different.
This story can be read in the preview of Wild Child: And Other Stories. (13% in)
“The Crowd” by Ray Bradbury
Mr. Spallner crashes his car and is thrown out of it. A crowd quickly gathers around him. He hears a siren, and people asking if he’s dead. Looking at the faces in the crowd, Spallner realizes he’s not going to die. Despite this, he gets a bad feeling about them.
This story can be read in the preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury. (62% in)
“Requiem for a Homecoming” by David Morrell
Ben, a screenwriter, returns to his alma matter as a guest-of-honor and for some fundraising. He meets up with his old friend Howard, now a professor at the school. Ben brings up the murder that happened in the library during their final year. The main suspect was Wayne McDonald, an assistant professor who died a week later in a car accident. Ben questions Howard about some of the details.
This is the first story in the Amazon preview of The Darkling Halls of Ivy. (25% in)
Short Stories About Car Accidents or Crashes, Cont’d
“Spring Rain” by Bernard Malamud
George Fisher lies awake thinking about an accident he saw earlier. A man was hit and killed by car. He was stoic during his final minutes of life. George has sleepless nights sometimes where he imagines himself saying things he doesn’t actually say to people.
This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Stories. (22% in)
“Dolan’s Cadillac” by Stephen King
A man has been watching Dolan, a crime boss, for seven years. He follows him as much as his schedule as a teacher allows. He’s gotten to know Dolan’s routine well. He’s always accompanied by two large guards. Dolan had the man’s wife killed because she witnessed something and was going to testify. He’s been trying to come up with a plan for revenge. One day, while driving he thinks maybe he could somehow trap Dolan on the road.
This longer story can be read in the preview of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: Stories.
“Accident” by Dave Eggers
You get out of your car after a traffic accident which ruined a Camaro carrying three teenagers. You’re worried about how they’re going to react.
“Pumpkins” by Francine Prose
A truck full of pumpkins collides with a car, killing the female driver. The report has an effect on several people in the small town.
“Test” by Theodore L. Thomas
Robert Proctor, a young man, is out having a pleasant drive with his mother. When he tries to pass a blue convertible, it swings in front of him, clipping the front of his fender. Robert’s car is knocked to the left.
Read “Test” Read “Test” (simpler version)
Short Stories About Road Trips & Driving
“20/20” by Linda Brewer
Bill and Ruthie are on a road trip. Bill finds her conversation simplistic; she refuses to argue anything. She says what she sees along the way. (Summary & Analysis)
“That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is In French” by Stephen King
Carol and Bill, married twenty-five years, are on their second honeymoon, driving to their destination. Carol experiences déjà vu; voices and images keep coming to her mind. Their drive comes to an end and she finds herself at an earlier point in their trip.
“Che Ti Dice La Patria?” by Ernest Hemingway
Two men travel near Savona. They let a man ride on the outside of their car with them into Spezia. They stop to eat at a restaurant where the waitresses are very friendly. They continue through the suburbs of Genoa.
“The Hitch-Hiker” by Roald Dahl
A man picks up a hitch-hiker and asks him about his work, but the hitch-hiker only reveals that he’s in a skilled trade. After talking about how fast the car can go, the driver accelerates, only to be pulled over by the police. He is very worried, but the hitch-hiker isn’t.
Short Stories About Road Trips & Driving, Cont’d
“The Hitch-Hikers” by Eudora Welty
Tom Harris, a traveling salesman, is driving to Memphis when he picks up two hitch-hikers. Tom stops off at a hotel to find somewhere for his passengers to sleep. While inside, there’s a commotion with his car.
“Doc Mellhorn and the Pearly Gates” by Stephen Vincent Benét
When Doc Mellhorn dies, he’s surprised to find himself on the road again. He had served as a country doctor for about forty years, and many were alive because of him. People from all around came to his funeral. That’s when things got strange for Doc Mellhorn. He found himself driving his first car, a Model T, on a long road. Things felt a bit different.
Read “Doc Mellhorn and the Pearly Gates”
“The Hitchhiking Game” by Milan Kundera
A young couple is driving together on the first day of their vacation. The woman is shy and “pure”, while the man is confident with women and has had many casual relationships. When she gets back in the car after a stop, they start to role play a hitchhiker game. It opens her up, changing her boyfriend’s view of her.
“Fish Night” by Joe R. Lansdale
Two traveling salesmen, a father and son, get broke down on a desert road. They sit by the car and talk about how hard it is to make a living. The father tells his son about an unusual experience he had on the same road years ago.
“Mythologies” by R. L. Futrell
A recently married couple are driving over the Kanawha River while the man listens to the radio and the woman reads some mythology. A new interstate is being built nearby.
I’ll keep adding short stories about cars, road trips & car accidents as I find more.