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Friday, May 11, 2007

Why don't we drop it in the road?

An interesting piece in the Times here about the stuff that winds up on the freeways, wrecking havoc. Read the whole thing, then come back and tell your personal horror story.

Comments (24)

My closest call came years ago, on the Banfield Freeway cruising through Sullivan's Gulch. Back in the days before the Max trains and accompanying freeway improvements, cars in the right lanes going eastbound had to do a series of hair-raising merges to the left. They were bad enough on their own, but one day a pickup truck a few cars ahead starting dropping huge chunks of oak that had been cut up for firewood. They were bouncing all over the place. One flew right over my car, missing the windshield by what seemed like a few inches.

Nowadays the worst offenders seem to be the gardener guys, with piles of debris, loosely attached rakes and other scary-looking implements, and mowers and blowers that sometime appear ready to become airborne. Or clowns who have just demolished a shed or a fence and are taking top-heavy loads of the junk to the dump.

I don’t have a horror story, but my boyfriend tells a story that you don’t want to read while eating a meal. (seriously – if you are eating now stop reading) A few years ago he was driving from Portland to Vancouver BC. Just a little bit north of Seattle he encountered an odor that seemed almost extra-terrestrial in nature – it was so bad. About a mile later he discovered the source of the odor. A truck had spilled its load of parts headed to the rendering (or hotdog) plant. Strewn all over the highway were cow heads, udders, limbs and unidentifiable chunks. And not just a few of them. It poses quite a driving challenge because as much as you don’t want smell it or see it – you really have to pay attention so that you don’t run over it. I would imagine you would have to get a new car if your tires rolled over cow parts rotting in the sun.

A few years ago, driving westbound on Hwy 26, empty flatbed 2 cars in front of me has a loose strap. It flies up, with a chunk of 2x4 attached. It comes off the strap, hits the windshield of the Audi in front of me, and she starts swerving wildly and then spins out and off the road, into the ditch in the median. Im driving a 1966 VW Bug, not exactly the best stoppers at 60mph. Scared the crap outta me. It all happened in about 5 seconds. I pulled over to see if she was ok, she was, just really shaken. Truck never even noticed, of course.

I have no tale to tell but can you imagine encountering some of these things on a motorcycle? A fellow rider of mine was following a pickup with plywood in the back. The wind caught one of the sheets and launched it in the air in front of him. It sailed and hovered like a piece of paper before its trajectory carried to the side of the road, fortunately.

The caption of the first image is really interesting, commenting on the 'do it yourself mentality' of people these days. I have never seen/heard/read about a society more reliant on others than this one here in the U.S. today. When I think of true do-it-yourself types, images of my grandfathers and great grandfathers come to mind. I'm sure it's probably no different for others here.

Travel, Joey Link. I lived in Japan for three years, and if they have paint stores or lumber yards, I never saw them. It's my impression that people in most of the other non-poor countries hire other people to do anything that might take us to Home Depot, McFarlane's, U-Haul, or the dump. I think that's what the caption is talking about.

Back on topic, my mom drove right over an I-beam that fell off a truck in front of her on I-95 near Baltimore. In a Chevy Monza!

I recently had a big piece of shredded plastic about twelve feet long hook onto a bracket under my car in the Terwilliger curves. It twirled around behind me all the way down I-5 to Tualatin. It was really embarassing, like having toilet paper stuck to your shoe.

My story is this...stop eating and reading again...
Picture thousands of Chickens on a semi on I-5 in California headed for the slaughter house.
I was in my vw vanagon behind the truck of course, when one by one the chickens started hitting the road.
I know it sounds like I am making it up but unfortunately I am not. I was able to pull over at an exit quite soon so I did not have to endure this dangerous situation and very nasty site for long.
The truck driver did not seem to notice he was loosing his load at least while I was behind the truck.
Still, if you drive a lot of miles stuff happens.

I once nearly hit a 10 foot aluminum ladder stretch across a lane on I-84. The car in front hit it and damage two tires and the under parts of the car.

Maybe the guy with the chickens did it so he could find his way home

I'm one of those idiot SOBs that the Times article is talking about. A couple of years ago I went back home to Miami and generally within a few days I start climbing the walls. So to keep myself sane, I find little projects around my mom's house to keep me occupied.

That year I decided to resod my mom's yard. I didn't have anything better to do so I rented a pickup, went down to the deep southern part of Dade County and picked up said sod. The guys at the sod farm put pallet after pallet of the sod in the back of the pickup.

I got on the highway and thought everything was going fine. I was going fairly slow then this guy pulls up to me and starts pointing at the sod. Neither me or the guys had tied the sod down, so with me going about 45 mph there were 1 x 3 feet sections of sod flying off the back of the truck. Luckily nobody got hurt. I got off the highway and took back roads going 30 miles an hour to get back to my mom's place. Took me an hour to get home.

i saw a perfectly good possum on the road the other day. it was alive and unharmed..! i didnt know they came that way. the ones ive seen before this were much flatter and tire tracked or had yellow lines painted on them. joco

Turning the perspective a bit; about 20 years ago,I was heading North over the Interstate Bridge with a pickup full of stuff and a wheelbarrow bungeed on top of the stuff just in front of the tailgate. About halfway across, I looked in the rear-view mirror and noticed, to my horror, there was no sign of the wheelbarrow. Stunned, I noticed that there were still cars behind me - though somewhat farther behind me - and that there was no trace of the wheelbarrow on the bridge. It wasn't until I got safely off the bridge and over to the shoulder that I discovered that the wheelbarrow (apparently) had tried to take flight, was restrained by the bungees, and sucked up to the tailgate in the low-pressure area behind it - it was snug against the tailgate, sitting on top of the bumper, like that's where it belonged.

I can only imagine the excitement in my wake.

Ah, flat possums. I think they peaked here in Portland in around 1983. They were all over the place for several years. I think the steel-belted radial won.

Annie K -

I trust your story 100% - I had a similar experience while driving on I-20 between Birmingham & Atlanta. I started encountering the occasional chicken in the road, spaced every hundred feet or so. They started showing up in clumps, and after 100 miles or so dwindled down to the poor individual stragglers .... Eventually I caught up with the culprit, an empty chicken-hauler with his back gate flapping open, the driver oblivious to the trail he had left behind.

Like you said, drive enough miles and unfortunately you'll see a lot of bad things. I've encountered my fair share of plywood, ladders, mattresses, etc. in the road.

The most chronic offenders, IMO are the gravel trucks - even those covers that they now require over the load do little good. After my second replaced windshield, I have learned to avoid those things at all times.

My worst horror story (and one of the closest calls of my life) happened on I-70 outside of Denver. I was behind a U-Haul truck that was towing a mid-size car on a car dolly. We were heading through a road construction area with grooved pavement and severe bumps. The U-Haul drifted onto the shoulder, started fish-tailing, and the car broke loose from the trailer . I was able to narrowly avoid a collision and squeeze by on the shoulder. The cars behind me were not so lucky and there was a 7 car pile-up. Both the U-Haul driver and I stopped to help/call the police. Fortunately, no one was killed but there were some serious injuries.

I think you meant "WREAKING havoc"...

Indeed I did. All the "wreck" talk in the article got me confused.

One hot July afternoon,a few years ago I was heading west on Columbia Blvd, trying to pick up I-5 South so I wouldn't be too late to a closing in the Hollywood District.

Obviously the pickup truck blocking the lane was in trouble, but what the heck was all that yellow stuff piled on the road? It looked like sticks -- yellow sticks?

Chicken Feet! Shovels full of chicken feet, cubic yards of chicken feet! Pwew! Hot chicken feet!

I called KXL -- I was sure they wanted to know what was slowing down the afternoon drive time. I told the news guy twice that it was chicken feet. Even though I explained it, they put it on the air as a truck load of salmon. I guess the reporter's editor didn't believe that it was really chicken feet. So much for the MSM. I know Jack believes me.

Heh...possums..I had a family of them living in my backyard when the tunnel was being dug for the westside MAX line. Nasty little creatures. I had a few raccoons living here as well.

How come I am never in the next car along when an armored car carrying cash loses its load out the back door? Or when a melon truck spills, or a beer truck? Or why ain't I in a pickup, right there, when a lumber truck spills? I mean, if nobody's injured, I'd like to help 'clean up the mess.'

Partly because I have a paranoia habit, and partly because I am keen in pattern recognition, there are days when traffic reports give a sense of 'staged jam-ups' as a form of agitprop. Entirely unprovable.

Suppose you were campaigning to spend public money to build more roads and more freeway lanes, (as LIARS Larson campaigns) -- it would help your spending argument if the existing roads and lanes got jammed and plugged up often. Or suppose you were only trying to sell radio advertising to pay a traffic reporter -- the traffic reporter needs something dire to report, from time to time.

It is that so many of the traffic jam-ups seem too conveeeenient, or too ridiculous, to be accidental. And, besides the old 'rolling slowdown' any conspiring pair of vehicles can accomplish, massive traffic congestion is so easy to do. One easy example, (as the flipside of my paranoia is menace, maybe), might be to fake a 'stall' -- simply slow down to a stop on a rush-hour freeway -- raise the hood, poke around underneath for five minutes, get back in and drive away.

Anyway, I mock traffic-complainers in PDX. There are not enough vehicles for a real jam-up; if they gave a traffic a jam and everybody came, it'd be over in 20 minutes. Compared with, say, trying to get to the (NYC) Triborough Bridge on a bad day, and it can be a 3-hour wait, easy.

Good citizen: when you see a vehicle about to lose its load, or contents, spend an ounce of prevention and hand-flag them over to get it tied down. (If it's an armored cash-car, first call me, then flag it over ... after awhile, maybe.) If debris is on the road and you are soon along, stop and remove it and be part of the solution. Stop to help stalled vehicles, as able. Pick up hitchhikers, as able. Be a hitchhiker, for personal adventure, (and to reaffirm your faith in humankind).

Sorry to bland your horror hour, Jack, I only have humor stories.

Odd coincidence, this popped up today.


Saying things like:


LUTRAQ (Portland, OR)
the limits of smart growth
transit, urban density and Peak Oil
relocalization everywhere
car sharing
mass transit
inter-city trains

A murder trial over a stove?

Oh right. It's a murder trial ONLY because it was a cop that was killed; when it's just a normal citizen, well, it's just an unfortunate occurence.


Gardner guys?


Sorry. I was confused for minute...

The following LINK expires, no doubt, before anyone important, (such as you, dear reader), gets to it.

It just is here to say I told you so, (above: ... I mock traffic-complainers in PDX ...).

Residents in the following 25 cities were surveyed and are listed in order from those reporting the most incidents of road rage to the fewest:
1. Miami
2. New York
3. Boston
4. Los Angeles
21. Dallas-Ft. Worth
22. St. Louis
23. Seattle-Tacoma
24. Pittsburgh
25. Portland, Ore.

More permanent link, further discussion, HERE, LoadedOrygun blog.

Whether reaching conclusions about Portlanders in the driver's seat, or BlueOregon 'Democrats' lagging along following The nOthing, which itself is several steps behind the times and waaaayy off the Oregon trail, the inbreeding disinformative unhappening regressives show, again, they are always the last to know.

Dateline May 16 -- Newsflash: Portland Has Nice Drivers

Awareness is blacklisted at BlueOregon, and such dumb-doomed 'Democrats' bring this HERE on themselves. - On the May 7 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rash Lamebrain claimed that according to the poll, "35 percent of this country's Democrats think that there was a government conspiracy about this [ Nine Eleven Op ] and allowed these attacks to happen." He asserted that due to the poll, that "it's no longer funny to call [Democrats] kooks and freaks and so forth. This is -- they are deranged, dangerously uninformed, misinformed, or what have you." He continued: "The Democrat [sic] Party is not mainstream.... "

'Democrats' need to raise that 35% to 100% of them able to handle the truth.

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