Question of the Day: What's The Strangest Thing That's Ever Happened To You In a Car?
Normally with these here QOTDs I propose a question, rattle off some personal anecdotes and then ask for your opinion. Not today. No friends, today we are going to turn your attention to central France and a turbodiesel Renault Vel Satis. The driver was on the Autoroute with the cruise set to about 80 mph. He passed a truck. Suddenly and allegedly, the car accelerated on it's own to 120 mph. The driver claims he tried to stop the car, but was unable to do so. He called the police and explained his predicament. The coppers cleared the freeway in front of the Vel Satis and tracked it for an hour until it just stopped. After a thorough investigation Renault is calling shenanigans (the driver can always override the cruise control system) and suing the driver for libel. So, like, you?
offroadinfrontier : Beautiful sunny, warm Texas weather out, I’m driving my brand new 16 year old ‘89 Blazer (car broke down and needed a temp replacement). Took a normal turn going a normal, safe speed, my foot gently on the brake, and the damn truck does TWO 360’s followed by a 360 in the opposite direction. I end up in front of a business just barely avoiding their support column…. I spun and wrecked on of these Blazer's. Nailed a 1980s BMW 3-series with the tailgate. The rear shocks were so worn and the tires slick enough that even little imprefections in the road surface would make the tires hop and loose traction.
Author: readingthetape Comment: High School drivers ed class 1970. Teacher told his student to pull into the left lane on the interstate and pass the car ahead. She pulled into the left lane at 65mph and shifted the transmission into "P" for pass. My sister did that with a column shift Citation when I told her to signal for a left turn. Made it in reverse. No damage. Go figure. Dad sold that car about 90K miles later with no problems still.
I knew there was another story in my brain. It was 1993 and I was stationed in Naples, Italy. The best 3 years of my early 20s. At about 4:15 AM or so we got called to a multiple car accident near Vilaggio Coppola. The fog was really dense that morning in that area which was not uncommon. The accident was between 4 cars. The first one slowed to make a right hand turn and the other three who were following too closely or did not see them slow in the fog and rear-ended it. None of the cars were too seriously wrecked - grilles and headlights damaged mostly. Nobody hurt either. The intersection was a complicated one but I'll try to make sense of it for you. Running north/south was Via Domiziana - four lanes full access urban road without any safety barriers at all, businesses and homes along the eastern side and generally always crazy. Four lanes with 6 lanes of traffic, people passing anytime anywhere. Going south the Domiziana curved left and became the Tangenziale - a cross town divided and limited access highway with exits and on ramps. The merge was simple. Suddenly there were guardrails and a center rail. The old Domiziana kept going straight south past the merge. One lane for the south bound traffic. The north bound traffic had to ride an overpass and rejoin the Domiziana north of the Tangenziale merge. The Italians called this piece of road the "Stradale di Morte" = the road of death b/c of the number of accidents that ended with death. Mostly it was a lack of concern for normal traffic rules which for the most part are the same here in America. The cars that had the acccident were travelling south on the little road that peeled off of the Domiziana/Tangenziale merge. Whew! We arrived and parked facing oncoming traffic along the left side of the lane. Later another US Navy MP pickup parked right behind us and an Italian polizia car behind that. All facing the wrong way with lights on. What some of the locals would do is rush down this short access road the wrong way and then across four lanes of highway speed traffic to save half a second of drive time (instead of using the overpass). This night the American driver was the last car in the pileup. He had no ID but told us which gov't apartment he lived in. Our 2nd patrol vehicle went to retrieve his ID. The apartment owner had ID to prove he was the real American so the driver from the accident was suddenly a John Doe. There was a connection between the two but we never quite nailed down what the connection was. Likely a simple friendship b/c the real American guy rented the car that was wrecked. You would think the Navy would have really leaned ont he real American to get the straight scoop but they didn't. The Italian polizia are getting impatient with the American imposter. We are standing between the patrol vehicles (mine is a van with rear doors) when an Egyptian comes flying down the access road the wrong way and sideswipes all three patrol vehicles. Not bad but paint rubs and creases in the sheetmetal. He climbs out of his VW Jetta and begins running around in circles yelling about something in Egyptian and taking off his clothes! Eventually the Polizia guy runs over and cold-cocks the guy. Knocks him right out. They lay him out on the shoulder of the road. He stays there for 5 mins or so while we search his car and record his information for the report. He comes to (nobody is watching him) and he starts the chicken-with-his head-cut-off running around again. Again a punch to the jaw and he's out. When he finally comes to they order him into his car and tell him to leave in les than polite terms. He is likely an illegal resident. It's starting to approach 5:40AM or so now and people are starting to drive to work. Some are using the overpass properly and some are trying to sneak down this access road. Wrecked cars still in place... Polizia walks with me down to the entrance of the overpass (150 feet south) and the next car is full of likely illegal African immigrants. He cusses them for breaking the law and jerks open the door of the car, smacks the driver around and then bends the doors backwards against the front fenders! Lots of yelling and drama by the Polizia. You have to understand the dynamics there. Alot of these illegal Africans are trying to make a living anyway they can and sometimes that means they are working for the Camorra (the local mafia) doing little things like simple labor on illegal construction projects or selling fake goods or in some cases acting as drug couriers - among other things. You name it, they do it. Seldom violent in those days. The Polizia know there is little they can do with these people b/c the legal system is broken in Naples so the Polizia are frustrated and use a heavy hand to encourage these people to leave the Naples area anytime they get the chance. After a few early morning illegals comes a few Americans. The Polizia officer wants me to just as tough to make my point but in four cars I get three Naval officers, two of which want to pull rank on me. I remain courteous but firm and explain that if he doesn't leave imemdiately the Polizia is going to ruin their door. In each case they left without much more discussion thankfully. The cars were towed. The American imposter was loaded into the Polizia patrol car. He prob beaten until he explained who he really was, and likely relocated back to Africa. He was an illegal resident and as things went there likely into a variety of illegal employment activities. See above. The cops there were heavy handed because they had to be - you can't imagine how mixed up the place is. Some really great people there but the gov't is broken. I have recently been reading about the Naples situation (Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano) and it sounds like it is worse than when I lived there. All in all I still miss being in Italy. Was a great place to be single and free. Not so sure I would go back to Naples now with my family except to visit...
When I was on tour in Afghanistan, I was driving a LAV3 (Stryker to you Americans) in Kabul in a convoy with some German jeeps. Since the Germans had slightly (and by slightly I mean a lot) better acceleration than my 19 ton apc, they sped up leaving a large gap between us after clearing a crowded market. Now when an Afghani driver sees a gap, he just has to fill it. This resulted in a Corolla (fortunately with no explosives in it) getting spun sideways under the nose of my vehicle and my vehicle commander screaming over the intercom for me to stop. This was unfortunate for the Corolla as the LAV has very powerful air brakes and nose dives when it's stopped quickly. The car was completely destroyed. Fortunately though, the 2 occupants were unharmed, at least judging by how fast they ran away. The guy driving came by our camp a few days later to demand some compensation... turns out he borrowed his friend's car :P