If you can’t say something nice

Don’t say anything at all—just carry a big bat or let your front bumper do the talking

David Matthews / May 10, 2005


Would you trust your Department of Transportation with a howitzer artillery cannon? Homeowners in Pleasant Grove, Utah, used to until their neighbor’s house was accidentally destroyed.

In March, UDOT officials were firing 20-lb artillery shells in Provo Canyon, attempting to bring down a large accumulation of snow before it turned into a deadly avalanche. Unfortunately they didn’t read the instructions that came with the shells.

The U.S. Army sends shells to UDOT pre-loaded with seven packages of gunpowder. Operators were supposed to remove two, but instead fired the shell fully loaded.

The shell overshot its target by a mile and landed in a residential neighborhood. The resulting explosion left a 3-ft-wide crater in Scott Connors’ backyard, sent shrapnel barreling through his house, destroyed his outdoor shed and even damaged a neighbor’s car. Remarkably, neither he nor his 3-year-old son was injured.

Connors said that UDOT has taken full responsibility for the accident and has promised to pay the full costs of his repairs. Now whether they’ll actually fix the holes in his home or just patch them over with asphalt is another story.

Mistaken identity

Heidi Brown knew that getting a new $1,800 scooter would be a blast, but she was thinking more in the figurative sense.

The Ipswich, England, resident knew that she needed license plates before she could begin using the scooter for her new job as a home caregiver. Registration officials had to inspect the scooter before plates could be issued, so a security guard told Brown that she could leave the scooter chained up in the parking lot until officials had a chance to look it over.

Shortly thereafter, police began receiving phone calls about a suspicious scooter in a parking lot with no license plates. The bomb disposal unit was quickly called to the scene, nearby offices were evacuated and streets were closed. The decision was ultimately made that in the interest of public safety, the scooter would have to be blown up.

To add insult to injury, Brown said that a few days after her scooter was destroyed, papers showed up in the mail from the registration office indicating that the scooter had been cleared for use.

The key is practice

Driving instruction in the Netherlands is a bit more thorough than what we are used to in North America. Just recently an instructor in Amsterdam showed a student driver exactly how to handle a belligerent motorist.

It all started when a 51-year-old man began complaining about the driving of the instructor’s student. The 27-year-old instructor then took the opportunity to demonstrate the proper behandelen van zaken technique (which roughly translates in English to “you best check yo-self before I wreck yo-self”).

The instructor first confronted the pugnacious motorist and told him exactly where he could file his complaints. The motorist countered with a knife, but the instructor didn’t panic. He simply reached for his baseball bat and, with precise technique, walloped the man in the head until he suffered a minor concussion.

Both men were taken into custody by police for questioning, but not before the instructor also was able to show his student the proper baseball bat grip for any and all motorists who have something to say about safe driving.

Crashing the party

A Canadian woman, who clearly did not learn to drive in Amsterdam, tried to take out her frustrations on her neighbor with her 1985 BMW. Unfortunately for both parties, the neighbor was indoors at the time.

The incident began last month when the Penticton, B.C., woman accused her neighbor of having her TV on too loud. When the neighbor refused to turn down the volume, the BMW owner got into her car, drove across the neighbor’s lawn, crashed through some patio furniture and rammed right into the side of the neighbor’s residence. The neighbor, of course, was home watching TV at the time, but wasn’t injured.

The driver was arrested and said that she regrets her actions because now that there’s a hole in the neighbor’s wall, the TV sounds louder than ever.

About the Author

Roads Report is a monthly roundup of unusual traffic-related events in the news. All the stories are true, but reported in fun.

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