Back to school

These motorists could benefit from a return to driving school 

Blog Entry September 09, 2015

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Ruff justice

On a sunny Sunday this past spring, a police officer responded to a call at a Walmart parking lot in Strongsville, Ohio, where a concerned shopper discovered a dog locked inside a Nissan Sentra.


When the owner returned, she blew off the officer’s warnings, showing him that her dog was fine despite the warm temperatures outside.


So in order to prove his point, the officer made the woman sit inside the hot car herself, with the engine off and windows rolled up, just like she had left her dog.


Apparently she was unaware that even on a 72˚F day, the inside of a car can heat up to 116˚F within an hour, a temperature that can cook a canine.


The officer, however, only made the woman sit in the car for a few minutes. When she was allowed out, she said she felt fine but the officer noted in his report that she looked uncomfortable.


The woman was also warned that if she ever left her dog locked inside a hot car again, police would have no choice but to swat her backside with a newspaper and take away her favorite toy.


Unintended shower

Whether it’s a passing truck in the rain or a bird with a full bladder, no one likes having their car sprayed.


But that’s exactly what happened in Greenwood, Ind., this summer when a highway paint truck inadvertently spilled 400 gal of yellow paint on I-65, splattering dozens of cars in the process. 


The Indiana DOT subcontractor, Gridlock Traffic Systems, was preparing to put pavement markings on the interstate when a hose ruptured and paint began spraying out onto the highway. 


Drivers behind the paint truck had no time to react and wound up with bright yellow paint all over the lower half of their vehicles. 


If you think that stinks, stay away from France where angry farmers were spraying manure on everything from government buildings to passing cars this summer in protest of falling food prices.


In recent months, French farmers have taken a hit from lower meat consumption, reduced demand from China, and a Russian ban on EU food imports. Around 10% of farmers are now facing bankruptcy.


To bring attention to their crappy situation, some farmers hit the road on their tractors and literally let the poop fly.


On the bright side, the French car wash industry is doing very, very well.


Jumping at the opportunity

This summer a Netherlands driver learned that his station wagon is no General Lee when he tried to jump it across a partially open retractable bridge.


Even though the bridge was closing, police say it was still open by about 13 ft at the time of the incident. 


Unfortunately the 56-year-old man’s “swagger wagon” wasn’t able to breast the chasm, Dukes of Hazzard-style. Instead it launched on a downward angle, bounced off the other side of the bridge, flipped, and landed on its side in the water below.


Amazingly, the driver was uninjured and was able to escape from his sinking car without incident—that is, until he fell climbing out the water, breaking ribs and puncturing his lung.


Free ride

Imagine dropping off your car for service and then catching the mechanics taking it on a joyride.


That’s what happened this summer to 24-year-old Randy Jones of Moreno Valley, Calif., who dropped off his Nissan 350Z to nearby Raceway Nissan for a diagnostic test and an oil change before heading to his job as a shift manager at the local Taco Bell.


A few hours later, one of his cashiers informed him that his car was in the drive-through line. Jones figured it was just a car that looked like his, until he got a closer look at the occupants and saw the Raceway logos on their shirts.


Raceway found that its employees had driven two miles off the official test route, violating company policy and resulting in the mechanics being fired.


The dealership offered to waive the charges for the work Jones had requested and to give him 20% off future work. Raceway obviously didn’t realize they were dealing with a Taco Bell shift manager, who managed to negotiate an additional $3,000 in parts and upgrades.


In the end, though, Jones still wasn’t satisfied, telling local KTLA News: “I don’t know what those gentlemen could have done in my car.”


Especially after a meal at Taco Bell. R&B

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