May 22, 2009

Blinkered Shotgun

Oh, I just remembered another story about driving yesterday. but first, the shotgun links:

Ok, so I was driving the kids home from my daughter's art show last night. It was near dusk, but still pretty light out.

As I came around the corner onto my town's main drag, I saw int he middle-distance a frantic mess of blinking and flashing light, like a patrol car in hot pursuit. Except all the lights were brilliant white, and they were flashing at hyper gran-mal-inducing speed.

I thought it was the police. As I got closer, I saw that it was just some pickup truck. I immediately wondered whether it was some undercover police pickup truck. It was certainly nondescript. But the lights were mesmerizing. The patterns were changing. There was no light bar you typically see on a police vehicle. Not ever a light bar inside the truck. The flashing was coming from all of the regular automobile light sources: the directionals, the "in reverse" lamps, the side directionals, and the brake lights.

The truck was parked on the side of the road outside a pizza shop. I expected to see some crime being committed, or to see an officer jump out of the truck into the street, at least. Why else would a parked vehicle be warning me so insistently?

But, no. There was just a guy with a baseball cap on sitting in the driver's seat. in front of a pizza shop.

So distracted was I by this overwhelming light show that I failed to notice that a family was stepping up to the crosswalk. They stopped before entering the street. Drivers are supposed to stop and let pedestrians cross when you see them at a crosswalk. Normally I would have stopped, but I saw them too late. It made me rather angry because I think I would have been breaking the law if they had stepped into the crosswalk. I was busy looking at the truck, slowing down and expecting that I was going to have to react quickly to something which might happen.

There were people close behind me (because I had slowed down) and I couldn't slam on the breaks for fear I would get rear-ended.

No real harm done, but it seemed clear that this was not a police vehicle. None of the usual hardware from what I could see -- like radio antennas and such. Was it just some tricked out light show version of parking lights? If so, I do not like this and I hope it is not the beginning of a new trend.

[Oops, forgot to note today's weigh-in. 181 lbs.]

Posted by James at May 22, 2009 12:21 PM
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I've seen a tow truck like that (not far from where you live, in fact) and it pissed me off. There really needs to be some limit as to how fancy a tow truck's warning lights should be. Especially since that tow truck was on the highway - it was just in regular traffic. It didn't need special lighting for safety.

Posted by: Julie at May 22, 2009 1:08 PM

Acronyms or initialisms? I just had this argument at work.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 22, 2009 2:05 PM

Oh. My. God. Death Star Canteen has killed me! I have watched it three times now. Perhaps once more.

Slum Dog Price Is Right is also quite good.

As for those obnoxious flashing lights, I thought they were illegal in MA. Some are and some aren't:

Who taught YOU to drive?
High beams, brought to light

"State law prohibits average citizens from installing flashing red or blue lights on their vehicles, those colors being reserved for police and emergency responders. But flashing orange or amber lights are allowed, [Lieutenant Dana Pagley, commander of the State Police traffic program section] Pagley said."

Posted by: Patti M. at May 22, 2009 2:24 PM

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