I am utterly convinced that our descendants will look on the aggressive prosecution of “distracted driving” the way hipster kids today look at the “Reefer Madness” scare of the Thirties. As police departments across the nation weigh the relative rates at which smartphone owners and career drunk drivers pay their court fines in a timely fashion (hint: it’s heavily weighed in favor of the former category), the shrill call to take additional action against people holding phones for any reason including navigation will reach a fever pitch not seen among American law enforcement since an idiot named Jack Anderson told them the Glock 17 could sneak through a metal detector. A claim, by the way, that Rachel Maddow repeated a few years ago, presumably because Maddow is either a deliberate liar or an unknowing dupe.
American drivers with more than a few days’ experience will note that the police tend to choose their speedtrap locations not by the risk that speeding in a given location poses to public safety but rather by ease of access and proximity to well-heeled drivers who are likely to quickly pay their tickets. In my hometown of Columbus, for example, speed enforcement on Route 315, which runs from the wealthy suburbs to the downtown offices, is constant and vigilant. Speed enforcement on Route 71, which runs parallel through the city but has exits leading to the ghetto and the truck stops instead of the ‘burbs, is nonexistent with the exception of the short stretch that connects the outerbelt to the upscale mall. As a consequence, Route 315 is an orderly low-speed commuter parade every day and Route 71 looks like a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road.
This cash-directed approach to safety has reached a new nadir, however, with a distracted-driving program that targets drivers who are incapable of doing any harm whatsoever.
Nowadays it seems as you’re almost as likely to see or hear a public service announcement about the dangers of texting behind the wheel as you are about drunk driving, but there are still plenty of “drive sober or get pulled over” billboards and PSAs. Around 4:45 AM on August 14, 2013, a 22 year old Florida woman named Mila Dago driving a rented Smart car apparently ignored all of that advice and allegedly ran a red light and broadsided a pickup truck, resulting in the death of her passenger, Irina Reinoso, also 22.
Not only did she find herself charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide but now there’s a good chance she’ll be convicted because prosecutors have recently obtained a string of text messages she sent to her boyfriend that night including the self-incriminating statement “Driving drunk woo,” sent just minutes before the crash. (Read More…)
Should you be in Toronto having a few with the TTAC Zaibatsu, and you need a lift home, Uber’s Uber Safe program might be what you need.
To those of us in the United States the idea of a police checkpoint is repugnant, but for much of the world it’s an everyday event. During my time in Japan, I experienced the process several times and the procedure was always the same. A police taskforce rolled in, set up a blockade and traffic slowed to a crawl while officers on foot spoke with each driver. Once in a while, a driver was directed to pull into a special area off to the side and most people did just what they were told. Non compliance would bring the wrath of a dozen baton-wielding cops and anyone who tried to run would be chased down by one of the police bikes that sat waiting and ready at the far side of the blockade.
The Korean police checkpoint in the video above seems to work in much the same way. The only thing lacking, it appears, are the chase vehicles. Of course, when you have a civilian in a Porsche GT3RS willing to run down your suspect, maybe you don’t need to make the investment. (Read More…)
As we hover around the fifty mile an hour mark in the right lane, the car ahead begins to wander again. First to the right, correcting sharply as they touch the rumble strip. Then to the left, as they overcorrect and wobble back across the center line. Suddenly, there’s a white flash to outside my driver’s door window. It’s some kind of late model Benz, burning up the passing lane Autobahn style. Not good.
Sure, driverless cars might mean the end of individual freedom, automotive enthusiasm, and the American man as we know him today, but at least you can’t get busted for drunk driving when you let your robot car drive you home from the local watering home, right?