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Young Driver Risk

First publishedin World Highways
January February 2018
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YOUNG DRIVER RISK
Police in the US state of Ohio recently found themselves in a high-speed pursuit involving a vehicle taken without its owner’s consent. The chase lasted for around one hour and the vehicle hit speeds of up to 160km/h during the pursuit, which covered a distance of around 72km in all between Cleveland and Milan. Officers managed to box the car in and bring it to a halt, without anyone being injured. The driver was a 10-year-old boy who took his mother’s car, the second time that the lad had done this in just a few weeks. After the first incident he explained that he had been bored. It is not clear how the mother is going to prevent her son from taking the car again but local police are now very aware of the risk to road safety that this youngster presents.

FESTIVE SEASON
The picturesque town of Kandern, which lies on the edge of the Black Forest in southern Germany ended up looking rather worse for wear following a recent incident with a Christmas tree. A trail of destruction was left in the wake of a driver who was towing the Christmas tree on a trailer. The problem arose from the fact that the tree was rather larger than the trailer’s load bed. Every time the driver made a turn, the overhanging tree battered against a series of obstructions. Road signs and a bridge were damaged as the driver made his way through the town. Other drivers meanwhile were forced to swerve to avoid colliding with the tree as the trailer passed by, while a trail of branches were left behind, causing further obstacles. Police were called but did not arrive in time to stop the driver departing the scene of the incident. The police said that the driver could not have failed to notice the trail of damage being left behind. As Kandern lies close to Germany’s borders with both France and Switzerland, it remains to be seen whether the driver escaped over either of the two borders.

THAT’S FINE
A Spanish cyclist was given a €1,000 for cycling while under the influence (CUI). This is an offence in Spain and police imposed the fine after stopping the man, who was obviously drunk, as he rode up to a checkpoint. A breath test showed his blood alcohol level to be four times the permitted amount. The man did not seem particularly perturbed at being charged however and hopped off his bicycle and began pushing it, commenting to officers that he intended to stop elsewhere and consume yet more alcohol.

TRUNK AND DISORDERLY
Police in the US state of Washington recently had to deal with a rather unusual incident. They were called to assist at the scene of a single vehicle crash involving a collision with a tree. On arrival at the crash site, they discovered that the male driver and his female passenger were naked. The officers realised that the driver was drunk and that the couple had been having sex at the time of impact. The distracted driver had failed to negotiate a curve on the twisty mountain road and crashed into the tree. The woman’s baby was also in the rear of the vehicle but was unharmed, although the woman suffered a number of fractures and had to be hospitalised and it is unclear if she was using the protection of a seatbelt at the time. The driver was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol as well as child endangerment and vehicular assault.

SOUND POLICE
A driver in Canada is C$149 worse off following recent action by local cops, for his singing. The man was singing at the wheel of his car when the four officers pulled him over, allegedly for screaming. In fact the man had been singing along to a popular 90s hit song when officers switched on their lights and required him to stop. The police were less than impressed with his vocal attempts at singing the hit ‘Gonna make you sweat’ and slapped him with the fine for causing disorder by screaming, an offence under Montreal law. This carries a maximum C$1,000 fine for a first offence, so perhaps he was less unlucky than might first be assumed. His partner meanwhile was rather unsympathetic, perhaps having heard his caterwauling once too often. She said that a fine of C$300 would have been appropriate. And should he be stopped again for the same offence, the fine could be as high as C$2,000.

FREEWHEELING MR FOX
A group of tourists in London had a surprise recently when they realised they were sharing their tour around the city with a fox. The animal sat at the rear of their double-decker tour bus, admiring the view along with the sightseers. As the bus drove down the upmarket Park Lane, the animal was spotted and the human passengers alerted the driver to its presence. The driver stopped the bus and the passengers disembarked, with the vehicle waiting until an animal expert from the RSPCA was able to come and remove the fox. It was later released into a wooded area, near the bus garage where it began its tour.

BUTT OUT
A woman driver in the UK has reason to regret her addiction to nicotine. She was happily driving along a street in the city of Plymouth in her car and, having finished a cigarette, dropped the butt from the window. Unfortunately for her, this act was spotted and her vehicle registration plate was noted. She was hit with an £80 fine for littering but did not pay the bill. The local authorities took her to court where she was stung with a fine of £550, as well as having to pay court costs of £682. All in all, she might want to consider giving up smoking as it seems to be costing rather more than necessary.

ACTION HERO
Movie star Harrison Ford recently played the action hero in real life when he provided assistance in the wake of a car crash in California. When a car travelling in front of Ford crashed off a highway, the star was one of several drivers who rushed to provide help. Ford helped the woman from her wrecked car and also provided information about the crash to police when they arrived at the scene. The woman was not seriously hurt. Her response to an action hero actor being an action hero in real life is unknown.

GET OUT OF MY WAY!
Paramedics responding to a serious medical emergency said that they were disgusted when they returned to their ambulance to find a note attached to the windscreen. The note complained that the vehicle had blocked a driveway, preventing a person from moving a car. The paramedics received praise for their efforts in saving the life of someone who had been taken seriously ill, while criticisms were aimed at the selfishness of the unnamed complainant who wrote the note. The writer later admitted his shame in posting the note, having been widely castigated for the incident.

FASTER?
In the UK a young mother hit speeds of up to 190km/h (120mph) while being pursued along a stretch of motorway. She had been driving a number of her friends home following a party but was spotted by officers in a police patrol car when she sped past their vehicle at excessive speed. Realising that she was now being pursued she opted to drive faster and when she diverted onto minor roads, raced through several red lights and into oncoming traffic, before veering back onto the motorway. Several more police cars joined the pursuit, which only ended when the engine of her VW exploded. Although she ran away from her car she was quickly caught and arrested. She was jailed for 12 months and also collected a series of points on her licence for the offence. She did not explain her behaviour and nor were officers able to understand as the vehicle, though uninsured, was her own and she was not engaged in any criminal activity other than her appalling standard of driving.

PARKING PROBLEMS
A driver in the German city of Frankfurt has been reunited with the car he parked some 20 years ago. The man left his car and when he wanted to return home, was unable to locate it. After looking for the vehicle for some time he reported it to the police as being stolen. However 20 years later the car has now been found, where it had been parked by the man. But instead of being stolen he had simply forgotten where it was. He had left the car in the parking area of an industrial building where it was discovered recently by a demolition crew, who intended to knock down the now disused structure. The car was in the way of the demolition workers so they contacted the police to try and find out the owner. The owner, now retired, travelled to the site with his daughter to identify the missing car. However the vehicle was no longer roadworthy and had to be scrapped. It is not clear how the insurance company responded to this news.

SLOW DOWN
In the UK a 107-year old woman was given a parking ticket for overstaying the three hour limit where she had left her vehicle, in the parking area of a supermarket. The woman had completed her shopping and then had lunch with a family member and was returning to the car as the ticket was given out. However she simply walked too slowly and was not able to make it back to the vehicle in sufficient time, returning 13 minutes too late. Her disabled badge was displayed prominently in the vehicle but this did not prove sufficient to deter the parking attendant from slapping a ticket on the windscreen. Her family member tried to appeal against the parking ticket but this was ignored and only when the woman herself made a complaint was the charge dropped.

MORE POOL TIME
A woman in the US state of Wisconsin has faced charges following an unusual incident involving the transport of a paddling pool. The woman was driving in her minivan when she was stopped by police, who were rather concerned at the way she was transporting the load. The woman had tied her nine year old son to the roof of the vehicle in a bid to weigh down the plastic paddling pool, which was too bulky to fit inside the minivan. When questioned about her actions by officers, she explained that this was the sort of thing her father used to do so she had assumed it was perfectly safe. She was charged with recklessly endangering the safety of her child.

BMW DRIVERS?
A curious incident occurred in the Canadian city of Edmonton recently, involving the occupants of a BMW and which resulted in police having to be called. The incident involved an alleged kidnapping, in which two adults and a baby were abducted. The male abductee had been forced into the boot of the car but somehow managed to escape, followed shortly after by the woman abductee, along with the baby. At this point the escapees were spotted by another driver who realised that the two adults had bare feet and given the freezing conditions, he stopped his pick-up truck and offered to give them a lift. As the escapees were getting into the truck, the vehicle was rammed deliberately by the driver at the wheel of the BMW. The force of the impact pushed the truck into a ditch, however the BMW was also damaged and was unable to move. Luckily the man with the pick-up truck was able to call the police, who arrived quickly at the scene. The five occupants of the BMW, who were all naked, were made to exit their car and were arrested. Two were minors and were later released. One of the BMW occupants however, a woman, resisted arrest and had to be subdued. The police said that drugs and alcohol use may have been a factor in the behaviour of the man and two women adults arrested. The abductees were unharmed physically during the incident and according to police reports the victims and the perpetrators were known to each other.

HANDS-OFF CORNERS
A Spanish motorcycle rider has been the subject of an investigation for reckless driving after posting videos online. The rider put a number of photos as well as a video of himself on his motorcycle on a number of popular social media sites. Police officers spotted the video and were rather perturbed, as it showed the rider travelling at high speed along a stretch of road noted for its high crash rate. At one point the rider took one of his hands from the handlebars so that he could touch the asphalt while rounding a curve. Officers understandably thought this was a dangerous activity and began investigating to find the name of the rider so that suitable charges could be placed.

BEEING CAREFUL
A motorcycle owner had to take unusual measures recently when he returned to his bike to find it swarming with bees. A bee specialist was called who used a smoke device and a portable hive to remove the insects safely. It is still unclear why the bees swarmed around the motorcycle. Smelling of oil and fuel, the bike would be hard for a bee to mistake for the pollen of a flowering plant.

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