Expect the unexpected

Aug. 8, 2017

Sometimes the smallest things can cause the biggest problems

Get in gear

It’s always the simple things that trip you up.

Recently, two would-be thieves in two different countries were both foiled by the same basic automobile control: the clutch pedal.

In June, a man in Sydney, Australia, approached a vehicle stopped at a traffic light and ordered the driver to get out. He then jumped behind the wheel and attempted to take off, but to his surprise, the car had an extra foot pedal.

Not knowing how to operate a manual transmission, the thief-in-training ground the gears for a while and then gave up, grabbing the victim’s purse and running away in defeat. He was found and arrested later that evening.

The very same week in Pinson, Ala., police received a call about someone stealing a flatbed delivery truck. Deputies rushed to the scene and spotted the truck as it was turning a corner. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver wasn’t ready to give up.

As he made his way onto the interstate, it became clear that the suspect didn’t have a complete set of vehicle theft skills. The engine roared loudly as the truck made its way down the highway at speeds approaching 30 mph, all because the bungling burglar didn’t know how to shift out of first gear.

Eventually the transmission seized up and the truck came to a halt, allowing for an easy roadside arrest.

Sticker shock

What trouble could a bumper sticker cause? You might be surprised.

A recent national survey by Cheap Car Insurance of more than 2,000 drivers revealed what kind of people are most likely to adorn their bumper with stickers, and how those messages make other drivers feel.

The survey found that women are more likely to add bumper stickers, at 63% compared to 50% of men. Bumper stickers also are far more prevalent in the South, with two out of three residents of Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee choosing to decorate their bumpers.

The study also revealed that bumper stickers are far more likely to incite negative feelings in other drivers than positive ones. Survey respondents reported that they often judged drivers with bumper stickers harshly, considering them to be ignorant, obnoxious, annoying or aggressive.

The most negative responses were related to pro-gun stickers or those displaying Confederate flags. Not far behind were the ubiquitous “Parent of an Honor Roll Student” stickers.

But before you go and tell another driver how you feel about their bumper decor, be forewarned: A Colorado State University study from 2008 found that drivers who have bumper stickers tend to be more territorial about their vehicles, and therefore more prone to road rage.

It’s a jungle out there

When it comes to sharing the road, the only thing worse than motorists who drive like animals is actual animals.

International car insurer Admiral recently revealed some of the wildest claims they’ve received involving animals, all of which turned out to be true.

While a man was working in his garden, a herd of deer suddenly came running out of a nearby forest. As they crossed the street and approached the man’s property, they decided there was no time to veer around the Smart car parked outside his home. So instead, they tried jumping over it, damaging the roof and buckling the frame in the process.

Another driver was feeling good about his freshly waxed car, until he encountered a peacock. When the bird caught sight of his own reflection in the shiny car door, he mistook it for another peacock invading his turf. Not to be outpreened by some invading Lothario, the peacock attacked. After several minutes of battle against his own reflection, the fight was ruled a draw. The real loser, though, was the car, which suffered significant damage to all three side panels.

Finally, a driver making his way around a drive-through safari got more than he bargained for when a rhinoceros came over for a visit. Unfortunately, the rhino wasn’t interested in saying hi; it just wanted a scratch, and this particular car looked like an excellent exfoliator. After rubbing itself all over the car with its thick hide and large horn, the vehicle suffered major paint and body damage.

The rhino, however, felt good as new.

About The Author: Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.

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