ROADS REPORT

Article December 28, 2000
Printer-friendly version





What a dump


What a dump


Utah garbage collectors recently picked up more than they bargained for from a church dumpster.


After a quarrel with his wife, a Utah man decided to spend the night elsewhere. But not having any family or friends close by, he opted to sleep in a garbage dumpster behind a church. Unfortunately, he failed to consult the pick-up schedule first.


At 6 a.m. the next morning, he and his new bedroom were "collected" into the back of a garbage truck. The man proceeded to get a free ride to a nearby high school where even more rubbish was dumped on him. The driver then engaged the truck’s compactor, but quickly shut it off when he heard a frantic pounding on the walls of the truck bay.


No more Mr. Nice Tollway


The days of throwing a couple pennies into an Illinois tollbooth and driving on without a second thought are coming to an end.


Starting last month, repeat offenders may face the suspension of their licenses, state tollway officials said.


Cameras were set up months ago to catch cheapskates in the act, but between the large number of offenders (20 million, or $8 million in unpaid tolls just last year) and the cost of small-claims court, the tollway typically had little recourse.


But now officials are warning that those with five or more violations owing at least $350 are eligible for suspension.


So think twice about zooming through the I-PASS lane again if you don’t have a transponder or a good excuse like the one a Wisconsin man recently gave officials for his 30 tollbooth violations: he thought I-PASS meant "I can pass."


Getting the royal treatment


How did the turtle cross the road? Through a roadside culvert leading to an underground tunnel constructed by the state DOT with your tax dollars.


Agencies that build and maintain roads around the country are becoming more and more animal-conscious by planning such amenities as bear underpasses, badger tunnels and snake walls to keep creatures out of traffic’s way.


Along a stretch of U.S. 45 in Illinois, officials are even considering installing special reflectors to redirect headlights into the woods and frighten deer away from the road.


The aim of all this is to save animal lives, increase motorist safety and comply with tougher environmental standards, officials said.


Nothing to sneeze at


You might want to think twice about dropping the top on that convertible this summer. Or even cracking the windows.


With allergy season in full bloom, road dust is shaping up to be yet another enemy of the 38% of allergic Americans.


With increasingly crowded freeways and tollways, and more diesel-truck traffic and subsequent exhaust than ever, road dust is at an all-time high. Conventional air pollution, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, is on the decline yet asthma rates continue to rise. Cal Tech decided to do a study of the components of road dust.


The findings indicated that while road dust is not as potent as house dust due to its many inactive ingredients like pavement and tire-wear dust, the increased amount of diesel-exhaust particles can aggravate allergic reactions because of the way they combine chemically with allergens.


Lexus maintains top rating


Lexus dealers narrowly edged out Saturn’s for the best consumer marks for servicing vehicles, according to a J.D. Power and Associates satisfaction survey.


This comes as no surprise to Lexus dealers—they’ve made service one of their major selling points and have taken top honors in this study for nine out of the past 10 years.


Customers often give high marks to the luxury division of Toyota for almost always getting their car back from the dealership when promised, and frequently cleaner than when it was dropped off.


Saturn was the most-improved automaker, rising six places in the rankings since last year. Saturn customers said scheduling service was easy, charges were fair and service was done promptly.


While most of the top rankings went to luxury car dealers, Korean automaker Daewoo ranked fourth, behind BMW and just ahead of Volvo, in the first year it was eligible for the study.


J.D. Power researchers stated that Daewoo’s free maintenance program, which covers such items as oil changes for the first three years, had much to do with customers’ high rankings.


The overall industry’s average consumer satisfaction rating rose slightly last year, from 683 to 692 out of 1,000 possible points. The research group said dealers are improving their repair services to compete with independent companies, such as oil-change shops.


Sixteen automakers ranked below the industry average, including Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen and Jeep. J.D. Power declined to release the scores of these 16 companies or explain why they ranked below average.


If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again


If more people were like Edward, security guards would be out of business.


Edward, a would-be Albuquerque, N.M., thief, had a little trouble robbing a Home Depot recently. First he drove in and hitched a trailer onto his pickup truck and quickly drove off, only to crash not too far from the store.


He then returned, hitched up a second trailer and drove away again—this time only to have the trailer come loose and crash just 75 yd from the first stolen trailer.


Just as a deputy sheriff noticed the brand new trailers on the side of the road, Edward came driving by with a third stolen trailer and mistakenly clipped the sheriff’s car.


A 25-mph "chase" ensued as Edward was rightfully leery about losing a third trailer. He was soon pulled over, though, and charged with three counts of motor vehicle theft.


About the author: 
Overlay Init