Safety, my ass

So CHP decided it was a good idea to put motorcycle units with radar guns around every bend of local expressways. You know, for safety, I suppose. Now some moron, who I’m guessing was speeding, saw the officer, slammed on the brakes and didn’t get a ticket. The moron is long gone, and the reason he didn’t get a ticket (if the officer indeed clocked him) is because the chain of cars slowing down behind him culminated to a four car accident which distracted the officer.

In this accident I got read-ended and my car was pushed into the car ahead of me (I was car #2). Three of the cars (including mine) had to be towed from the scene. Now this is morning rush hour, maintaining a following distance is next to impossible, if you leave a car length in front of you somebody is going to merge in. So who is going to wind up responsible for all this? Not the nameless moron who isn’t even legally part of the accident ( he didn’t get hit ). Not the officer blatantly endangering everybody just to squeeze in some more ticket revenue (this happens all the damn time, and it shouldn’t, one way or another). It’s probably going to be the poor young guy with a newborn daughter in the very back who ran his beat up old Hyundai into a nice Mercedes, which rammed my Sebring, which rammed an almost brand new Volvo.

I have good brakes. If I didn’t get rammed there would be no accident. Nobody involved was speeding or doing anything even remotely unsafe. Hell I was going 20 miles under the speed limit. Fucking ticket revenue.

Sounds like somebody was following somebody else too closely. Which we all do from time to time, but it’s not 100% safe.

Shit happens?

Yeah, I know, as far as the law’s concerned, you’re supposed to leave enough following distance to stop safely if the car in front of you happens to plow into a magically summoned Instant Brick Wall (an exaggeration, perhaps, but a small one)…but is this really practical in any way? If there’s even moderate traffic, leaving that much space between you and the car in front of you will encourage a third car to hop into it, which means you have to slow down to maintain proper following distance, which means another car hops in front of you – and the guy behind you is doing the same thing, and the guy behind him, etc. – ad nauseum, until everyone’s doing 30 mph to try to maintain a 100%-safe following distance.

Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

groman, I’m sorry to hear about the accident, but I’m glad you’re okay. I trust poor Hyundai dude and his kidlet are unhurt as well?

As much as I loathe the traffic-law-as-cash-cow mentality of many states and localities (I mean, shit, have you looked at Virginia’s new fines? Fucking $3000 speeding ticket), I don’t know if the cops can be blamed for this one. As you said, the real fault lies with the dipshit who slammed his brakes at the first sign of a police bike, then sped off to escape the consequences of his dumbassery. That’s the guy who should feel the heat of the Pitting…among other, far more tangible pains.

My condolences to you, Hyundai dude, and the guy in the Mercedes. Hopefully the cops won’t give you further reason to Pit them by blaming the accident on any of you. It does happen; I had someone pull this same shit on me about two months ago, and the cop didn’t charge me or the guy I hit, because the accident was caused by a third guy slamming his brakes for no reason and taking off into the sunset. Best of luck.

The OP is bitching about a police policy that supposedly increases safety but in reality is just a means to hand out more tickets and your first response is this?

Yah shit happens, but can’t a guy come here every now and then to bitch off some frustration?

So you’ll get where you are going 5 minutes later.

What if everyone did it? It’s hard to say what would happen. A lot of traffic jams are caused by crashes that result from unsafe driving. Also a lot of traffic jams are caused by too many cars trying to use the road at once, sort of like the 3 stooges trying to fit through a door at the same time and getting nowhere. If everyone kept a decent following distance, we might all be better off.

The OP did claim that nobody was doing anything remotely unsafe. That doesn’t sound right to me.

If he wants to be sure that the listener will be 100% sympathetic, he should probably get a therapist. Or a good bartender.

Obviously gladiadelmarre has never driven (a) in California traffic or (b) in rush hour traffic anywhere. Safe following room my ass. It’s completely impossible in any large city I’ve driven in to maintain a safe following distance during rush hour. The best you can hope for is to keep just enough room in front of you that there’s not room for another car to squeeze in – although even in that case someone will try.

My sympathies, groman. I hope nobody was hurt.

In fact, some german engineers at Mercedes did precisely that in NY. Their automated following distance feature in a car slowed the vehicle when it reached ‘too close’ status.
You know what happened. Car cut in, car slowed. Car cut in, car slowed. Eventually, the Mercedes stopped.

Yes, it sounds like a urban legend, but I heard it from an home-office exec at Mercedes over dinner.

Seems to me, based on this statement, that groman did, indeed, have enough stopping distance between himself and the car in front of him. The guy behind him may have had enough stopping distance, too, were it not for the fact that his car was pushed into groman’s car, which was then shoved into the car in front of him.

The same thing actually happened to me once. In fact, I had come to a complete stop with room to spare between me and the car in front of me, which was also at a complete stop. Then I was rear-ended hard enough that it shoved my dead-stopped car into the car ahead of mine.

Now, that doesn’t mean that “nobody involved was doing . . . anything even remotely unsafe” in the OP’s case. Clearly, the guy in the back wasn’t in complete enough control of his vehicle. He either didn’t have enough room to stop, or he didn’t react soon enough to safely stop. Either way, he was at fault.

If you ever get tired of the CHP, please be welcome to come to the Isle of Enchantment. The police here have no other function but raise funds for themselves. They drive past accidents, broken traffic lights and blatant violations that they will have to see in court. They only do speed fines and (believe it or not) checking to see if you still have old licenses on your windshield next to the current one (yes, that is an infraction here).

They also live above the law, of course. The other day, I nearly broadsided one stupid police cruiser who decided to make a U-turn on the highway from the right lane without using any signals of any kind.

I understand that good intentions don’t pay the bills or salaries, but obvious fund raisers from the police really get on my nerves. May their radar guns give them brain cancer.

“May their radar guns give them brain cancer”
I seem to recall that the CT Staties discovered, to their dismay, that their habit of keeping their radar guns running in their laps led to glow-in-the-dark nads.

Next time you have dinner with your friend tell him to pull the other one, it has bells on it.
The system you are discussing is a radar controlled cruise control. With it you can specify a time based following distance (1.0-3.0 seconds behind the car in front, in 0.5 second increments) I have used just such a system in very heavy LA traffic. What you describe just does not happen.
Sorry to burst your bubble.

Mama Tiger I have never had a problem leaving an adequate following distance in LA traffic. Since my last job required a 65 mile one way commute from the North San Fernando Valley to South Orange County, I think I speak with a tiny bit of authority.

Not to detract from the OP, who was in a shitty situation, but I always have a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept that the person obeying the law and/or the person enforcing it are somehow at fault for accidents.

Well, to be honest, my impression of LA traffic is that this is simply not a problem. The minimum stopping distance when you’re traveling at an average of 2 MPH is less than one car length, so nobody can squeeze in.

The law is just some words written on a piece of paper – following the law does not absolve you of any ethical responsibility other than to follow that particular law. Following or enforcing one law does not prevent you from breaking some other law, nor does it make your behavior safe, prudent, reasonable or intelligent and it most definitely does not confer any sort of immunity from me blaming you for direct results of your actions.

I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept that some people think obeying some law or enforcing it is magic. I have a sneaking suspicion these sort of people wish that slowing down for jaywalkers wasn’t the law, so they could teach those nogoodniks a lesson. A person can be just as dangerous obeying laws as they can be breaking them, and it’s fairly difficult to prove that in the general case that obeying the laws inherently makes someone less dangerous on average (and without proof I don’t believe it for a second)

Ice falling off a building is “shit happens”. Bullshit radar in bumper to bumper traffic causing random slowdowns, that inturn cause car pile ups, is a “major fuckup in bureaucracy”.

Driving over the speed limit and stepping on the brakes at the sight of anything blue is not obeying the law. Ignoring dangerous violations (such as the aforementioned) and going for easy tickets is not enforcing the law.

I’m having trouble picturing the situation. According to the OP, someone was going far enough over the speed limit that they felt compelled to slam on the brakes at the sight of a cop, while the OP was driving 20 mph under the speed limit in heavy traffic.

They were the first person to leave the intersection after the light turned green, I was probably the tenth behind them. They took off, but there’s a slight curve in the road, behind which the officer was hiding.

Actually, they look just fabulous in their “blend into anything” green/brown/almost camo uniforms. With their helmets on, not moving, holding their radar gun still, they look just like the sparse trees behind them. It’s quite startling when you see one.