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Ein Muppet geht um in Europa


Farelf
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Sorry, bad attitude etc., but there is just something so ineffably right about this:

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/10/27/germa...affic-cops.html

Someone in Germany is driving an automobile built for UK roads and has installed a Muppet in the passenger seat. The speed cameras in Germany are made to take photos of drivers who sit in the left side of the vehicle, so drivers of UK-style cars can't be easily identified.
When speed cameras/red light cameras start catching people doing the right thing, then I would change my attitude, I guess.
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Well, I suppose they do catch people going the speed limit and coming to a full stop, but they don't publish those. While I am lawless, I do agree with the Tappit brother who says that we are becoming a nation of scofflaws and it is extending beyond speed limits and stop signs (and I guess, so is Germany). And I definitely don't like the idea of cameras watching me wherever I go - even if I am obeying the law. Big Brother deserves Big Muppet - except that I don't approve of reckless driving or spamming or other 'rude' behavior. I wonder what Mr. Muppet would think of vigilante nails in his path? Can't stop some one in car by simply ignoring them the way you can online.

Miss Betsy

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A point of veiw (well, several of them):

When the authorities we put in power over us insist on treating us like naughty children (and how people are treated fairly well predicts how they will behave, then it becomes self-referring) one might wish they would at least take some parenting lessons. The admonition 'Don't try to catch them doing wrong, try to catch them doing right' comes to mind.

No, we don't want idiots on our roads. One way to address that is to (somehow) effectively challenge them not to be idiots. There are reports of improved road safety (reduced accident frequency) in places where traffic lights and advisory signs are taken down - and no, not because of permanent gridlock, it's because people have to be alert, to anticipate, to be considerate and to co-operate. And they do. Enforcement is a manifestly unfair process and the more draconian it becomes the more resistance to it there might be - that (increasing strictures, increasing penalties) isn't the answer. It leads us away from being all the things we're actually good at being. It is to be resisted.

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Actually, your theory is supported by facts - in Germany, on the Autobahn. Where there are no speed limits, there are fewer accidents than on a comparable stretch of US Interstate, exactly as you said, because people concentrate on driving.

However, part of it (according to the documentary I saw) is because certain rules of the road (like staying in the slow lane unless passing and tailgating) are strictly enforced. I don't exactly see how that works, from my own driving experience on the Interstate, since some people don't seem to be comfortable driving at 85, but do want to go faster than a heavily laden truck. That can slow down a lot of those driving at 85 while the 75 mile an hour people are passing the truck going 70. Even on the Autobahn where there is a lot more traffic, there are speed limits. It only works when there isn't a lot of traffic or at least, the highest speed is limited naturally by slower drivers when there is enough traffic.

Even with no artificial limits like speed limits or traffic devices, there have to be rules of the road. A stop sign merely means that the other road has the right of way. Or speed limits often state the safe driving speed for this stretch of road (like a slower speed limit on a curve). In the country, people tend not to stop unless there is traffic on the larger road, but in the city, one almost always has to stop to be sure. A funny story: there is a town where the custom is that the first person in the left turn lane gets to turn left before the other lanes start. Someone driving in our town forgot he wasn't at home and got clobbered because he thought he had the right of way (not according to traffic laws, but by custom)!

IMHO, until all parents have learned good parenting, the government is not going to be able to effectively use 'good parenting' to stop people from not playing by the rules. And, offline, in order to protect others, one does need to use force to prevent those who want to, or don't know any better, from ignoring the rules. Online, however, one can ignore those who would run us off the road. That ethic might hasten the day when offline less force is used to make people obey the rules of the road - unless Big Brother takes over first. That's why I can appreciate Mr. Muppet, even if I would definitely be annoyed if he were ignoring good sense rules of the road and there is nothing I can do about it - not even ignoring him and going on my way. I have to stop or slow down to avoid a crash.

Miss Betsy

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I drove on the Autobahn, it was so scary I was shaking. And that's coming from someone who nearly always drives above speed limit in North America.

that picture reminds me of the British car that caused major accidents in continental Europe when he placed his dog on what people thought was the driver seat.

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...that picture reminds me of the British car that caused major accidents in continental Europe when he placed his dog on what people thought was the driver seat.
Yes, we're all hooked on "patterns", don't adjust well to unexpected changes. Even pedestrians - when people visit the UK, Eire, etc they tend to carefully look the wrong way then step straight out into the oncoming traffic, same in Australia, NZ, etc. At least in London, they've got those warnings painted on the pavements ("Look RIGHT before crossing ... no, your OTHER right").

That case of the removal of signs, traffic lights etc. I was thinking of was Bohmte in Germany - major thoroughfare - inspired by famous trendsetting example of Drachten (Holland), British and US cities talking of doing the same (Google for numerous hits). Then there's the whole Arc de Triomphe thing (controlled entry, then you're on your own). Not that I've done it personally (anyone humming "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" can just cut it out, now). And all of Italy.

As Miss Betsy says, you've got to have rules - that people know. Denpasar (Bali, Indonesia) is unbelievable but it works brilliantly - just one rule (apparently), give way to anything larger. The biggest danger with LH/RH drive is 'quiet' roads. When (as a visitor or even a returned expat) you finally see an approaching vehicle there's a moment of disorientation trying to figure out which side you should be on. Australia loses a lot of visitors that way, unfortunately. They're fine in the cities, but if they venture too soon onto the open road ... that's one case where a few more signs (reminders -"Keep Left") would probably do some good - but how many hundreds of thousands of the things would it take? Anyway, sorry about Gene Shoemaker and Carolyn and all the others. :(

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Actually, your theory is supported by facts - in Germany, on the Autobahn. Where there are no speed limits, there are fewer accidents than on a comparable stretch of US Interstate, exactly as you said, because people concentrate on driving.

While your statement is valid, there is a lot more to the story. I'm having to go back to the early 70's for my references, so numbers are probably totally invalid these days. In order to obtain a driver's license, a German would have to take and successfully pass a driver's training course. (Again, back then) if a driver managed to work straight through the entire course at a single pass, you were talking a cost of something to the tune of $2,500 U.S. Few made it through without the need to re-take portions of the course at additional expense.

I recall an interview with a Porsche engineer that admitted to going a bit nuts at trying to deal with U.S. marketing folks who were always asking just when Porsche was going to get around to designing in a cup-holder. His thoughts were that while driving a car, especially a high-performance car one should not have any distractions .. and trying to take sip out of a "Big-Gulp" soda in a paper-cup would certainly be defined as a ridiculous distraction when 'at speed.'

On the other hand, when there was an accident, it was rare that t would be a 'little fender-bender' .... I recall the mandatory first-aid kits required in every vehicle. Here in the U.S., these would contain a few band-aids of various sizes, perhaps some anti-bacterial ointment, yada, yada, yada .... The kits in Germany had massive (presssure) pads, tourniquet strips, etc. .... actually somewhat scary to look at and not conjecture just why these things would be required.

However, part of it (according to the documentary I saw) is because certain rules of the road (like staying in the slow lane unless passing and tailgating) are strictly enforced. I don't exactly see how that works, from my own driving experience on the Interstate,

One of the differences is a different set of laws involved. One specific is the failure to clear to the rear scenario, not seen in the U.S. When in the 'fast lane' .. it is also part of 'your job' to get out of the way for faster traffic coming from behind. Failure to do so is a rather expensive traffic violation, involving both money and points against your license.

Then there were the required safety inspections that even included an appearance standard. You saw no 'wrecks' travelling down the road. A friend sold a mid-60's Corvette to a German and found it amazing that so much work had to be done on that car to meet the 'minimum standards' in order to get licensed to run on German roads. The U.S. DOT certifed headlights were insufficient for German road use (going back to the problem of the car's performance possibly allowing one to over-drive the capabilities of those 'too dim' headmights.) Due to the possible 'full performance' use on the Autobahn, those shoddy U.S. tires had to be replaced with something that matched the capabilities of the car (specifically, running at 150+mph all day.)

the highest speed is limited naturally by slower drivers when there is enough traffic.

Amd the failure to clear to the rear law comes into play again.

I drove on the Autobahn, it was so scary I was shaking. And that's coming from someone who nearly always drives above speed limit in North America.

On the other hand .... my last car over there was a 1969 Ford LTD County Squire station wagon, a 390-HP engine. Actually much too large, but .... damn I miss that car. (An incident at taking a 'wrong' turn within the ancient city of Rothenburg had me scraping both driver and passnger side door handles against buildings trying to make it to the next intersection. Actually had to go down another three or four intersections to find one large enough to actually turn the beast <g>) On the Autobahn, the 'ruts' were too closely spaced for the wide-track of this car .... meaning that if I moved to the 'slow' lane, I was constantly 'bouncing' from side-to-side as one rear-wheel would fall into 'that' rut, then 'crawl' out and the other read-wheel would fall into the other rut. I changed the rear-end gears so I could cruise at 120+mph (as clocked by a friendly polezei) so that I rarely had to move into the 'slow' lane. Of course, coming back to the U.S. and hitting the drive 55mph situaton really sucked with this gearing, never mind the ease at falling asleep at that speed on roads designed for a much higher speed.

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We got some red-light cameras hereabouts a few years back, one of the windfalls of the "peace dividend" when a big aerospace firm put the system together for our county.

Soon after they were installed, one of them nailed me for entering an intersection when the light had turned red. It cost me $75. I'm not complaining, it was a fair cop (and I've never received another). However, what struck me when I read the "fine" (sorry) print was that I was not being charged with a law violation. This was OK, because it meant I got no points on my license, but it was also bad inasmuch as there were no instructions for going to court with it. If I'd had legitimate reason to challenge the ticket (whatever those might have been), I'd apparently have had no way to do so.

Seems as though these cameras are really "revenue enhancers" (I understand that there was a split in revenues between the government and the system developers) and the courts must not consider them to be absolute proof of lawbreaking. Just as well, I suppose.

Re Porsche: years ago, as a teenager, I lived in Germany for awhile and one of my friends was the son of an engineer for Porsche. He (the father) worked on the legendary Porsche 917 race cars, and also held a coveted high-speed drivers license. He "moonlighted" weekends driving a Porsche 911 police interceptor for high-speed autobahn chases. These cars were painted in outrageous dayglo colors, mainly I suppose so that you could see one in your rear-view mirror from a long way off.

The Autobahns were no places for sissies: relatively narrow and with lots of fast traffic. There were rules of the road to be observed (such as keeping right at all times except to pass). There was also an unwritten pecking order of who could pass whom (e.g., Ford passes VW, BMW passes Ford, Mercedes passes BMW, and so forth).

When I came back to the states, I left one autobahn, got on the airplane, landed back home, and rode on the D.C. Beltway, which I recall being stupefyingly wide and full of gigantic, very poky cars going 55mph (the new speed limit).

-- rick

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When I came back to the states, I left one autobahn, got on the airplane, landed back home, and rode on the D.C. Beltway, which I recall being stupefyingly wide and full of gigantic, very poky cars going 55mph (the new speed limit).

What a place!!! Went into D.C. once with a fellow motorcyclist. I explained to him before starting the trip that at the on-ramp from I-66 to I-495, ignore the speed limit. My preferance was to be running at about 70mph (in contrast to the posted 35mph) ... this allowed one to either speed up or slow down, whatever was needed at that point. The 'problem at that spot was that you had traffic trying to accelerate and merge left into the 'high-speed' traffic on I-495 .. but you were also 'competing' with traffic trying to slow down and merge right to make the exit ramp to get on Route 50 .... something a bit less than a quarter of a mile between those two points. He cjose to "do the right thing" .. which meant that I lost sight of him for another 10 minutes or so. It took him that long to work himself out of the boxed-in position he'd found himself in, surrounded by those all-too-huge semi-tractor/trailer rigs.

You are right - there is a lot more to the story. Were you a consultant for the documentary?!

I'd had many oppotunities to give safety classes throughout those military years, primarily for motorcycle riding, but that also included trying to educate those that drove around in their 'cages' <g>

You forgot to mention that not only are the cars better built and maintained, but the road is also.

No idea what things are like over there these days, as far as the road maintenance goes. The only real issues I recall in Germany were the ruts caused by the compression effect from all the trucks running in the right hand lane all the time. The left hand lane didn't have this issue.

Some of the other contries, well ..... lots of suprises <g>

The "better-built" situation s certainly up for debate. The joy of the first four or five months of epoxying back on all those parts that fell off the new Truimph. The car I learned all about "handling" in (a Fiat 850 'racer') being totally recalled and for the most part, ending up being crushed, due to the frame rails and floor-pan disappearing as rust. Some cars were never designed to think about traveling the Autobahn ... the infamous Citroen 2CV for instance.

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... Some cars were never designed to think about traveling the Autobahn ... the infamous Citroen 2CV for instance.
Heh, I remember the final issue (or maybe it was the penultimate issue) of Perth's Daily News (1990) coincidentally carried the story of the demise of the 2CV. And of course they had to explain the 2CV=deux chevaux (de vapeur). Except the sub-editor must have left early, because it came out as deux cheveux - two (hanks of) hair. Which would explain some performance issues. Well, it struck me as hilarious at the time.
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The "better-built" situation s certainly up for debate.

Nephew called this morning, working on his wife's Dodge Stratus. His description of the problem led me to pointing out that this was a serious problem with the BMW 2002 series, where the rear inner-fender (inside the trunk/boot area) would rust away around the reinforced plate to which the rear shock mounted. It was a bear to fix, as it required the replacement of a large patch of metal. In the case of the Dodge however, the problem item can be described as an upside down cup. The cup bolts to the inner-fender, the shock mounts to the 'bottom' of the cup. In this case, the cup iteslf was broken ... everything still bolted in place, but the cup was no longer in one piece. Turns out to be a common replacement part, based on the dealer having 30+ in stock.

Then got a bit side-tracked about the Daimler-Benz/Chrysler connection .. what are the odds that the same German engineer could have been involved? <g>

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...Then got a bit side-tracked about the Daimler-Benz/Chrysler connection .. what are the odds that the same German engineer could have been involved? <g>
Wouldn't a Dodge mid-size be based on Mitsubishi engineering? Dunno.
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