ROADS REPORT: Small but mighty exciting

The shortest month is long on love, action and new identities

Blog Entry February 11, 2014

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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Wham bam thank you ma’am
February may be the month of love, but no one wants to see your public displays of affection, particularly behind the wheel. Take it from these guys who had to learn the hard way.
In May Luis Briones was spotted driving down a busy Albuquerque, N.M., street with a naked woman in his lap. After running a red light, the 25-year-old slammed his SUV into an oncoming car, which sent his paramour hurtling out onto the pavement.

Rather than tend to his injured lover, Briones tried to drive away, but a witness managed to pull him from the SUV and swipe his keys from the ignition. Briones then tried to hide from police behind a cactus, where he was found wearing only an inside-out pair of shorts and one shoe.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need a partner to get into trouble. This past August, a British man was caught doing some solo “pleasure driving” on a busy English highway.
A truck driver called police to report a naked man cruising down the 70-mph highway steering his Ford Escort with one hand.

At his court appearance, the 49-year-old’s attorney said that his client had been engaged in a “messaging conversation” and simply got “carried away.”

Those stories may seem over the top, but don’t be too quick to judge. A recent survey by Scout GPS found that 11% of us have participated in some sort of sexual activity while driving, and even more (15%) would give it a go if they knew that no one else on the road could see them.

Quiet on the set
Award-show season hits its peak in February, but many New York City residents say they’ve seen enough well before the action even hits the big screen.

While big-budget movie and TV shoots are a major economic engine for the city, the NYPD and FDNY are often flooded with 9-1-1 calls from concerned neighbors who mistake the Hollywood action for real life.

Police in New York City have no choice but to take every emergency call seriously, even the ones about movie star Keanu Reeves shooting up downtown Brooklyn with a machine gun. (Look for “John Wick” in theaters later this year.) However, officers are usually tipped off when the scene of the crime includes floodlights and camera rigs.

Just last month the NYPD received seven 9-1-1 calls about a horrible car wreck on Staten Island during morning rush hour. EMS responded looking for a trauma patient, just to find that the accident was part of a shoot for the Emmy-winning Showtime series “Nurse Jackie.”

In October, the popular CBS cop drama “Blue Bloods” was issued a permit for simulated gunfire in Brooklyn, but when the actors began firing their prop guns after dark, a flurry of terrified 9-1-1 calls brought real police to the scene.

And in September, another CBS hit, “Person of Interest,” violated its permit by using prop guns outside the set’s perimeter in Manhattan. At least one witness called police to report people waving guns around on a bustling Midtown street. Once police sorted out the situation, the mayor’s office shut the set down.

Identity theft
Feb. 13 is “Get a Different Name Day” (it’s true, look it up), and officials in Anchorage, Alaska, hope that residents on one particular street choose to observe.

Anchorage has been working for the past 10 years to eliminate duplicate street names in order to reduce confusion and improve emergency-response times. Since the initiative began, 91 duplicate names have been changed, with more than 30 currently awaiting action.

One of the biggest problems was Davis Street, a name shared by five different streets throughout the city. Officials decided to keep the original Davis Street and rename the other four, but residents of the soon-to-be-renamed Grayling Court are not willing to budge.

“I’ve got to change utility bills, driver’s license, vehicle registrations, the whole works,” one homeowner told the Anchorage Daily News. “It’s like we’ve moved and haven’t gone anywhere.”

Sure, but what happens when Bruce Willis comes to town to film the latest “Die Hard” installment and you’re pretty sure you saw him planting a bomb near a Davis Street bus terminal, but police are sent to the wrong one and the action-star-turned-domestic-terrorist gets away? You’d feel pretty selfish then. R&B

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