Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Give 'em a Brake!

You've probably seen the signs or similar ones like "please so down, my daddy works here."

If not, I am referring to construction zones and the request from the construction workers and the states which fund them to obey the reduced speed limit zones required to maximize traffic safety at these workers' workplaces.

If you've been keeping up, you already know that my personal Dinan 540iS sustained significant damage several weeks ago while I was testing some radar detectors on the road.

Why $300 apiece tires are
worth every penny. It's a testament to how well Michelin Pilot Sports are engineered. The one tire which sustained the blowout didn't lose pressure, remained drivable, and protected my life! Each of these tires transferred enough force to bend metal while maintaining their structural integrity!

And to be brutally honest, I was traveling at a somewhat higher rate of speed than I should have been at this extended length construction zone on I-95S in Chester, PA, even though there were no workers present at the time.

My indiscretion cost me more than the mere fine of a speeding ticket, it cost me several thousands of dollars in bent rims and damaged/blown-out tires. Had I been traveling at a more leisurely pace it is possible that this damage may have been avoided as well as the potential of being involved in multi-vehicle accident.

Does this relieve the state of culpability or responsibility for maintaining safe passageways even through construction zones? No.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Press play to view videos of the construction road hazard.
While the E500's more compliant suspension and taller profile tires appeared to soak-up the impact of the uneven road surfaces, the 540's M-technic sport-tuned suspension and low profile tires did not fair as well. Notice on some of the videos, certain trucks' rear wheels actually coming off the road! Now that's FORCE.

But, being realistic, some of the blame must rest on my shoulders.

Fortunately, my preferred BMW dealer has provided me a loaner BMW, so my inconveniences have been minimal—beyond the out of pocket costs—as their level of customer service is not to be believed.

However, driving today to a business meeting, I came across another construction zone in Fort Washington, PA and during my on-ramp approach to route 309 South I nearly hit a very large rusted metal sign-post that somehow managed to be lying across practically the entire lane. Had I been speeding (I was not) I would have had less time to react and avoid this very very dangerous impasse—and subject my loaner vehicle to serious undercarriage, wheel/tire damage!

That would have made two damaged vehicles in two different construction zones in as many weeks!

Given the danger, I immediately stopped my vehicle on the on-ramp and turned-on my hazard flashers as a Pennsylvania State Trooper pulled up behind me to allow me to remove this 10-pound metal object from the roadway.

As I continued on my journey, I reflected upon the recent events of the last several weeks.

I don't know if it is my imagination or not, but it appears, at least in the North East, there is an extensive amount of road construction going on, more so than I can ever recall seeing.

I believe I am also experiencing with greater frequency, unsafe driving conditions in many of these construction zones—coming from debris, mis-aligned road seams, or poor road patching—to name a few.

During my visit to Ohio this past weekend in which I went speed trap hunting with Staton, Steve and we came across a construction zone which warned of high fines and possible jail time for speeding convictions. It all sounds very harsh, that is, until you stand on the other side.

I managed to do just that during my return trip home.

When I came to the Eastern Ohio Turnpike toll booths, I had to pull-over to the side of the road and search for my wallet. When I found my needed fare, I walked to the toll-taker booth.

If you have never done this before, I will tell you that it is a little scary with six lanes of rapidly approaching and converging traffic each direction. I got a healthy dose of reality about how inherently unsafe this environment is for the toll-workers (never mind the air quality factor).

In Pennslvania, we have an automated toll metering system called EZPASS which allows cars to pass through the toll-booths without stopping. In our state, the speed limits are very low (to protect the workers who still work there). However, I routinely observe other drivers blowing through these toll-booths at much higher speeds. This is unfortunate as it presents a serious health risk to the toll-workers.

You guys already know I tend to drive fast on the open highway (which I consider a minor transgression) however I do respect the posted limits at toll-booths, because clearly, in this case excessive speed can kill.

As I continued my journey today on route 309 south, I thought about other areas where I try to be cognizant and respectful of posted limits and I came up with a couple of others: school zones and residential neighborhoods.

Each of these areas have something in common with each other— they each involve pedestrians or children.

Given my recent misfortune, I am going be mindful of these areas and try to drive more responsibly (ie; slowly), safely, and courteously.

I support efforts by those which help to ensure and maintain safe passage for all at these sensitive areas.

One never knows what "potential hazards" lie ahead.

Perhaps your interests would be well served by also being mindful of such things.

Happy and Safe Motoring!

Veil Guy.


jwardell said...

In Chicago, they would say there were two seasons: Winter, and Construction.

Sadly around boston, we rarely see construction, instead roads in unbelievable bad shape, that can cause wheel damage every day of the week.

Any radar enthusiast should also especially heed the lowered speed limits of school zones etc. You should expect extra enforcement in those areas, and the cops are less likely to be lenient, and for good reason. The good news is these speed zones give you plenty of signed pre-warning.

Veil Guy said...


Anonymous said...

I am amazed the stuff I see on the roads around ATL while driving, ladders, mattress, pieces of wood, re-treaded truck tires are not uncommon.