Rage against the machine
Put yourself in the driver's seat for a moment. You're following someone who's doing at least 10 mph below the speed limit, or talking on a cell phone, or doing his or her makeup; it's a no-passing zone and you're late for work.
What do you do? If you're the picture of intolerance-and you live in Miami, New York, Boston, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C.-you're probably tempted to tailgate, honk your horn, flash the lights...and boil over. Yes, we're talking about that Latin term ``Roadus Rageus,'' which originated back in Roman times when some codge in a chariot refused to obey the rules of the road, while Ben Hur tailgated him all the way.
AutoVantage, a national auto club, recently conducted its second annual ``In the Driver's Seat Road Rage Survey.'' What it found ain't pretty. The least courteous city in the country is Miami, with the other four noted above following hotly behind.
The most courteous city in the U.S. is Portland, Ore., it found, followed closely by Pittsburgh, Seattle/Tacoma, St. Louis and Dallas/Ft. Worth.
``Road rage has unfortunately too often become a way of life, both on and off the track,'' said Liz Allison, a NASCAR racing TV personality, radio host, author and AutoVantage spokesperson. ``More and more, in cities across America, people are acting out their frustrations with dangerous results. It's bad for professional and everyday drivers alike.''
The survey sought to define road rage thusly:
* Angry or upset drivers, including those who are out of control and/or who lose their temper.
* Bad or aggressive driving, including bad, careless, crazy and/or rude driving, cutting into lanes, cutting people off, tailgating, speeding and/or honking.
It cited the following as some ``behaviors by other drivers that cause stress for commuters'' and can lead to road rage: driving too fast (66 percent said they observe this every day); tailgating (57 percent see this daily); and cutting over without signaling (45 percent witness this).
Other stuff that tees off some drivers: seeing other drivers yacking on cell phones, doing other tasks while driving, running red lights and slamming on their brakes.
Overall, 35 percent of survey respondents said they see drivers doing things like putting on makeup, shaving or reading while driving. That kind of behavior is most likely to be seen in Miami (54 percent) while least likely (19 percent) in Seattle. (With all the rain in Seattle, there are probably a lot of other reasons there for rage.)
OK, we've outlined the bad stuff. What are some solutions? Drivers weighed in with these suggestions to reduce rude driving and road rage:
* Increase police presence (62 percent thought this would help);
* Limit cell phone usage (55 percent);
* Make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving (53 percent);
* Use automatic cameras to catch bad drivers (51 percent); and
* Conduct a major public awareness campaign (32 percent).
And, if you drive the maddening freeways of LA-leave your guns at home.
A Bimmer-bustin' record
Remember the old days when a bunch of college students would try to stuff 80 people into a VW Bug to cement their place in the annals of history?
Well, ClubBimmer.com is going after a different kind of record. The Web site that caters to BMW owners/enthusiasts is attempting to enter the Guinness World Records book for the most BMW automobiles in a single convoy. The date and details for the record-bustin' attempt haven't been finalized, but the club said it should happen sometime next April.
Internet Community Partners operates ClubBimmer.com, whose content manager, Mitchel DeFrancis, explained: ``We are a BMW family and we wanted to share our love for the brand by creating a friendly online community for BMW owners and enthusiasts to visit.''
He's one of them. Mr. DeFrancis has owned a couple of Bimmers, met his wife Julie at a BMW event in 2003, and his brother Danny's daily ride is a BMW.
``Making an attempt like this (record) is possible because of the growing use of Internet chat forums by automotive enthusiasts,'' ClubBimmer said.
Line 'em up...and while they're at it, they might want to see how many college kids can be crammed into a Bimmer. Give them free pizza and they'll do just about anything.
This 'n' that
Hillbilly hearse?-A sight: Passing a house in a respectable Cleveland suburb, there it was...an expensive looking, very ornate wooden casket strapped to the back of a pickup truck bed.
And it was weeks before Halloween. (Was there someone inside? Was Peggy ``Elvira'' Fisher in the neighborhood?)
Speaking of Ms. Fisher... Tire Business' commercial tire service columnist, who's soon to ascend to the presidency of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), has found herself in a bit of a dilemma.
Every year she dresses up in her Halloween finest and turns her house in a Michigan neighborhood into somewhat of a crypt to scare the bejeebers out of the locals.
But due to her duties as a TIA exec, on this fateful Oct. 31 she'll have to be in Las Vegas (now there's a scary town) for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)/TIA Performance Tires & Wheels trade shows.
She told Marketplace she's considering sporting one of her best ``Elvira, Mistress of Darkness'' get-ups that night in Vegas. Be afraid...be very afraid.
* * *
Tires make good TV-CBS TV show ``CSI-Crime Scene Investigation,'' which has featured tires prominently in a number of episodes, recently unraveled a mystery rooted in an unraveled truck tire.
Always stretching the limits of implausibility, the CSI team investigated the decapitation of a young go-kart driver whose noggin was found bouncing down a desert highway outside Vegas. As the story line went, he and another dude were racing karts when they came up behind a tractor-trailer. The victim, running a bit too close to the truck's rear wheels, uh, lost his head when a hunk of rubber flew off a tire and lacerated him neck high.
Good thing the CSI'ers didn't blame retreads or they'd have to answer to Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB) Managing Director Harvey Brodsky, who recently did some jousting with ``Click & Clack, the Tappet Brothers,'' alias Tom and Ray Magliozzi, over a comment the boys uttered on their National Public Radio ``Car Talk'' program.
Apparently, they made the unfortunate mistake of linking roadside tire debris with retreaded tires. The TRIB boss gently took 'em to task, sending them a nice letter and packet explaining that some ``road gators'' are hunks of new tires, too.
Them gators are scary, Halloween or not.
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk