Taking responsibility

At least when your mistake isn’t someone else’s fault 

Blog Entry February 05, 2015

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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Getting the boot
If you’re an officer trying to enforce parking laws outside an audition for a show called “Bad Girls Club,” you have to know your day isn’t going to go smoothly. Sure enough, this past December a would-be contestant for the long-running Oxygen TV reality show exited the audition venue to find her BMW SUV sporting a freshly mounted wheel clamp on the rear tire. After exchanging words with the officer who had just fastened the boot, applicant Shalonda Cross didn’t waste time crying or begging. In true Bad Girl style, she just climbed into her vehicle and tried to drive away with the boot still attached.
 
Backing out of the spot was a bit bumpy, but once she started driving forward out of the lot, the clamp broke off after just a few feet and Cross sped away to the cheers of the other applicants still lined up outside. A video of the incident has gone viral on YouTube, so Cross won’t be able to elude police for long. Of course, given that she was auditioning for a show that focuses on the altercations between aggressive, unruly women, her stunt also may land her a starring role.
 
Cuban classics
If you think vacationers are excited at the prospect of normalized relations between the U.S. and Cuba, talk to a classic car enthusiast. That is, if they’re not already swimming across the Gulf of Mexico.
 
In 1959, after a young Fidel Castro seized power in the Cuban Revolution, he banned the importation of all new cars. As a result, today you can find classic Buicks, Cadillacs and Studebakers all over the island, some maintained and still running, and others abandoned years ago along the side of the road. Hunting down these rare gems is a favorite pastime for many visitors to the island nation, including photographer Piotr Degler, who recently discovered a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe, rotting under a banana tree, its doors ajar and body decayed. With some restoration, this vehicle could be worth more than a million dollars.
 
Under lock and key fob
Automotive technology advances at such a rapid speed that some people have trouble keeping up. However, a couple in New Zealand is encouraging seniors to try in order to avoid the fate that almost befell them this past November. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 68 and 65, respectively, nearly died in their garage when they mistakenly thought they were locked inside their keyless Mazda 3.
 
Around 7 p.m. on Guy Fawkes Day, the Smiths intended to head out in their new hatchback when they realized they forgot their key fob. They were able to get into their car, but without the fob they couldn’t start the ignition or (they believed) unlock the car to get out. They also left the car manual in their house, which would have told them about the manual door lock switches located next to each interior door handle, just like those found inside nearly every other car on the road today.
 
Believing themselves to be trapped in the car, Mr. Smith said he searched methodically for any type of unlocking mechanism. When that failed, the couple tried to break out using a car jack, but weren’t strong enough to break the glass. They also tried honking their horn, but their neighbours couldn’t hear over the sounds of the local Guy Fawkes celebrations. The couple was finally discovered by neighbors the next morning, nearly 13 hours after first becoming “trapped.” With oxygen running low in the cabin, Mrs. Smith had already fallen unconscious and Mr. Smith was struggling to breathe. EMTs were able to revive the couple and informed them that if they had spent another hour in the car they both would have died.
 
Fortunately, the Smiths have made a full recovery, but their story raises some important questions. Do car dealerships have a responsibility to fully inform their customers about the features and technologies in their new vehicle? It’s not like new owners have time to read their car manual before driving off the lot. Or is it the driver’s responsibility to educate themselves before climbing behind the wheel? The Smiths went public with their story to encourage motorists, particularly seniors, to do just that. And last but not least, what’s a Guy Fawkes and do we get presents? R&B

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