Bird gets hammered
A man in Laguna Beach, Calif., will have quite the story to tell his insurance agency after a drunken collision left his car with a smashed windshield.
The motorist was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway when suddenly a pelican crashed through his windshield. As you might expect with a story like that, alcohol was involved. But the man was not the one who was drunk—the pelican was.
Wildlife officials report that pelicans normally have excellent eyesight and would not just crash into a vehicle. They believe that this pelican, as well as several others found staggering through the streets of Laguna Beach on the same day, was under the influence of a naturally occurring toxin found in algae that blooms in the ocean.
Luckily the pelican’s injuries were not severe. It needed surgery for a broken foot and also suffered a gash on its pouch, but it is expected to make a full recovery.
A similar type of toxin is believed to be the cause of a 1961 seabird invasion in northern California that inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film “The Birds.”
Capitalizing on this summer’s incident, plans are now in the works to document the lives of a flock of drunken party birds for a new MTV reality show.
Don’t tread on me
Auto accidents are not the only potential dangers of drinking. Even if you’re not driving, it’s important to stay alert, particularly if you’re vacationing in southern Florida.
Just last month, a beach patrol officer at Daytona Beach accidentally drove his pickup truck over a sunbather. He was reportedly only driving 21?2 mph, but still managed to drive diagonally across a 20-year-old woman lying in the sand. Luckily, she was not seriously hurt.
This isn’t even the first time an accident like this has happened. Last August, another beach patrol officer drove over a 25-year-old woman—and the lounge chair she was lying in. She survived with only cuts and bruises.
Get with the times
Of course, everyone knows that intoxication is so last year. This summer, MySpace.com is the new Friendster.com, size 2 is the new size 4 and talking on your cell phone is the new drunk.
At least that’s what a study conducted at the University of Utah found. Researchers concluded that talking on a cell phone can be just as detrimental to your ability to operate a vehicle safely as a night at the bar, sometimes even more so.
The study, published in the journal Human Factors, monitored 40 men and women on a video game-style driving simulator as they navigated a virtual 24-mile course. Those doing the simulation while talking on a cell phone caused more accidents and took longer to react when a car in front of them hit the brakes.
When the drivers were drunk, they followed other cars more closely, hit their brakes more forcefully and had twice as many close calls.
Surprisingly, though, they caused fewer accidents than subjects using cell phones.
The study also found that hands-free phones are no safer to use while driving than standard handheld phones. The distraction to drivers seemed to be the actual conversation, not the operation of the phone.
Researchers pointed out that their results do not suggest that drunken driving is not dangerous, just that it’s not the “it” way to cause a 10-car pile-up this season.