Video contains NSFW language
“We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.”
My mind couldn’t comprehend the precipitant, nor the severity, of the situation. Psychologists often refer to this phenomenon as jamais vu, translated as “never seen.” I had sat in my car at a million stop signs before, but the pure fear of what I was experiencing made everything seem strange and unfamiliar.
A dark, monstrous hand reached through the drivers’ side window of my 2005 Mazda 6 and quickly yanked the keys out of my ignition. In the midst of all the chaos, I remember thinking in a brief moment of clarity: is this really happening to me? My brain was finally beginning to catch up to fill in the blanks — I was being car jacked.
Back when I was looking for a cheap suspension-donor Lexus SC400, I had a couple of friends tell me to be careful when I went to go look at clapped-out Americanized Soarers with three-digit price tags: “All worn-out SC400s, in fact all worn-out Lexuses, are owned by murderers! You’ll see!” As it turned out, none of the cars I looked at had trunks full of quicklime, shovels, and duct tape… but that got me to thinking about the “murderer car” thing. Which car available today has the image of being owned by the scariest, manslaughteringest individuals? My answer, which I know to be the correct one, may be seen after the jump. (Read More…)
The world of towed-away cars can be a harsh one, as our very own Steven Lang often points out. Today I heard the latest in a long series of tales from the often-penumbral world of towing and repossessions, a Craigslist ad that purports to be selling a mistakenly-repoed Crown Vic. A phony ad meant to drag a clean business and its owner into a world of pain— an all-too-common occurrence in the maddening world of Craigslist cars-for-sale listings— or something that will soon have the constabulary asking a lot of pointed questions in a certain Maryland tow yard’s office? (Read More…)
I love my beater 1992 Honda Civic, and living near downtown Denver is great, but the combination of fifth-gen Civic and urban living means that thieves are going to try to steal my street-parked car on a depressingly regular basis. Would-be thieves tore up my steering column less than a year ago, and they did it again a couple of weeks back. Both times, my homebrewed kill-switch system kept the bad guys from starting the car. Both times, I got the car back on the road with cheap junkyard parts. (Read More…)
If GM needed another reason to let Saab die on the vine, it just arrived: Vladimir Antonov, the Russian banking scion, longtime partner with Victor Muller in Spyker, and erstwhile Saab rescuer is wanted in connection with what the UK Press Association [via Google] calls
a pre-trial investigation into an alleged fraud and money laundering case that is threatening to destroy two Baltic banks.
Bertel noted earlier that Snoras, one of Antonov’s banks, had been forced to halt operations, but the issuing of a Europe-wide arrest warrant for Antonov is an even bigger black mark on the Russian financier. And it adds to an already-impressive family resume: Antonov’s father Alexander was shot seven times in a 2009 assassination attempt that has been connected to a Chechen blood feud, and the family has been accused of ties to organized crime by the FBI and Swedish authorities.
Since September 8, motorists in Costa Rica have been racking up speed camera fines worth 308,295 colones (US $600) each. Sixteen speed cameras have been flashing around the city of San Jose at a rate of a thousand per day as part of the brand new program. Those fines — among the world’s highest — are not being mailed to vehicle owners, as is the case elsewhere. Instead, motorists are expected to check their plate number on a regular basis to see if they need to pay up.
On September 26, the first set of license plates was published in the form of a 120-page list in La Gaceta, the government’s official journal. The alleged violations are sorted by day, so all of the country’s vehicle owners must scan each day of the week looking for their vehicle. Those among the 15,429 plates that have been listed so far have until October 17 to come up with the $600 in cash.
Whenever our man in Brazil, Marcello DeVasconcellos reports on new model introductions in his home country, TTAC’s American audience is consistently blown away by the prices commanded by new cars there. Once, when asked why a new VW Amarok costs the equivalent of about $66,000 US dollars in Brazil, Marcello replied
Besides the very high taxes, there are the very, very healthy margins car makers practice down here.
Perhaps too healthy.
[Editor's note: The following was sent to us by Donald Sawicki of Copradar.com, a site where Mr Sawicki offers insight and literature on radar and red light camera safety issues to victims, defendants and legal professionals.]
The first step towards determining if a red light camera exists to make money is to answer the question: Does the traffic light force drivers that just happen to be in the wrong spot (worst case) when the light changes yellow to brake safely (worst spot at worst time)? If the answer is “safe braking for worst case” the camera probably exists for legitimate reasons of safety. If the yellow light forces unsafe or even dangerous worst case braking, the camera is strictly a source of money (a dangerous tax) that goes to cities or states and equipment suppliers (which typically split the booty). To catch (trap, trick, hook or crook) more redlight runners some municipalities shorten the yellow time forcing drivers (even NEAR worse case distance) to run the light. It gets worse: many jurisdictions use outdated driver reaction times (some established over half a century ago) when determining yellow duration, resulting in short yellow light times and unsafe worse case braking.
Lawyers for motorists in Missouri are looking to capitalize on recent discoveries regarding deceptive marketing campaigns orchestrated by red light camera companies. On Wednesday, The Simon Law Firm filed a class action lawsuit against American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and the city of Hazelwood seeking refunds for thousands of photo enforcement tickets issued without the sanction of state law.
“In bringing this class action, plaintiffs seek to expose what they and other Missouri citizens believe is an unscrupulous business venture between an out-of-state for-profit corporation and a municipal government seeking to fill city coffers,” attorneys Ryan A. Keane and John E. Campbell wrote.
The arrest of 13 young supercar drivers near Vancouver, British Columbia is not necessarily the sort of piece I’d jump all over right away, but it did inspire quite a number of emails from readers tipping us to the story. I’m always intrigued by stories that inspire a lot of tips, but after reading the Vancouver Sun follow-up, I was even more disappointed with the story. To wit:
The drivers face charges of driving without due consideration for others, which comes with a $196 ticket and six driver penalty points, which will trigger a $300 penalty point premium.
Gaumont said there is a lot of disappointment that the drivers face only $196 fines, but there is not enough evidence to charge them with the more serious offence of dangerous driving.
“We don’t have police officers who observed the offence, and we don’t have lasers and radars that have the speeds,” Gaumont said. “We have to really depend on third-party individuals who had called in.”
If I’ve got this right, we’re supposed to be outraged by young people in fast cars, and society’s inability to stop them from wreaking their ”speeds upwards of 200 km/h” terror. For me, though, the overriding reaction to this story is “how uncool doess this make the supercars look?”
Just because police can search an automobile does not mean they can search its driver, according to an August 15 ruling by the North Dakota Supreme Court.
Boston.com’s On Liberty blog reports that the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of citizens to video police officers, ruling in part that
changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.
So great was this victory for First Amendment rights and the New Media, that an Albuquerque police officer celebrated by getting caught in flagrante delicto while in uniform. You know, in case there was any question as to why the courts really ruled this way. And if this whole story smacks of Jalopnik-style only-barely-related-to-cars desperation, we’ve got a “Stump the Best And Brightest” challenge to keep things car-centric: what model of vehicle is the officer “laying down the law” on?
Having spent most of my driving years in car-theft-prone neighborhoods in California and preferring the please-steal-me Honda Civic as my daily driver of choice, I learned many years ago that a secret starter and/or fuel-pump cutoff switch is a must-have. Such kill switches have prevented theft of my past Civics on three occasions that I know about. Last week, the maddeningly hard-to-find kill switch I installed in my 18.2-second quarter-miler 1992 Civic left a Denver Honda thief empty-handed. (Read More…)
Drivers have no recourse if police say the tape from a dashboard-mounted video camera is not available, according to a ruling Wednesday from the Texas Court of Appeals. Mark Lee Martin wanted to defend himself against drug possession charges filed in the wake of an August 29, 2008 traffic stop, but he was told no video was available.
Travis County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Jennings claimed that he pulled over Martin that evening because he failed to signal a left-hand turn. Within less than two weeks after the incident, Martin’s attorney formally requested that the department preserve video evidence from the stop. Subpoenas were issued to ensure “all videos and dispatch calls” would be saved. At trial, Jennings was asked why the camera evidence had not been kept.
“Since I didn’t put it in my report it wasn’t preserved because I didn’t believe it had any type of evidential value,” Jennings told the court.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association has reviewed a number of studies on distracted driving, and its report [PDF here] shows a number of disturbing findings. A few of the highlights (or is that lowlights?):
- At least one driver was reported to have been distracted in 15% to 30% of crashes at all levels, minor to fatal. The proportion of distracted drivers may be greater because investigating officers may not detect or record all distractions. In many crashes it is not known whether the distractions caused or contributed to the crash.
- In almost 80% of all crashes and 65% of near-crashes the driver was looking away from the forward roadway just before the incident and that secondary task distraction contributed to 22% of the crashes and near-crashes
- about two-thirds of all drivers reported using a cell phone while driving; about one-third used a cell phone routinely. In observational studies during daylight hours in 2009, between 7% and 10% of all drivers were using a cell phone… about one-eighth of all drivers reported texting while driving. In observational studies during daylight hours in 2009, fewer than 1% of all drivers were observed to be texting.
- Cognitive distractions by themselves – thinking about something other than driving, without any manual or visual distraction – can affect driving performance. Two recent studies reinforce the conclusion that distractions affect the mind, not just the eyes, ears, or hands
- [Two] studies found that crash risk was about four times greater when using a cell phone. Hands-free phones did not appear to be any safer than hand-held phones.
- In the only study of texting bans, HLDI studied their effect on collision claims using the same methods as their 2009 study of cell phone laws. They concluded that texting bans did not reduce collision claims. In fact, there appears to have been a small increase in claims in the states enacting texting bans compared to neighboring states… there is no evidence that cell phone or texting laws have reduced crashes.
If you’re at all interested in a relatively concise (50 pages) overview of the state of distracted driving research, this report is well worth a download. Ultimately, though, the report offers more challenges than easy answers, as it largely debunks the notion that increased enforcement or hands-free laws make much of a difference in the problem. [via AutoObserver]