December 07, 2010
Moving backwards with government assistance
When I was younger and considerably more irresponsible than I am now, I bought a used car for almost nothing, which the guy sold me because the (automatic) transmission had conked out and he couldn't move it. Actually, the car could be moved, but only in reverse. The transmission was dead in all forward gears, but in reverse it operated as would any other car. While the car was a little over four miles from where I lived at the time, it occurred to me that if I could just get it home without having it towed (which would have cost more than I paid for the car) I would have a great deal. To do that, though, I would have to drive it in reverse for four miles across town.
Yes, I was crazy enough to do it. My thinking was that when you drive a car in reverse, people usually have enough common sense to understand what that entails, and they just sort of shrug while you slowly work your way in reverse past them -- presumably to get back to wherever it was you wanted to go but made an error, or to return to that parking space you missed. Obviously, driving in reverse is not a good idea at peak traffic times, so I figured I would drive the disabled car home at a time well into the wee hours of the morning.
It was much easier than I thought it would be. The only hard part was craning my neck while driving. I wrapped my right arm around the passenger headrest, and just kept going. What made it even easier was the fact that at 3:00 a.m. the lights in Berkeley are almost all timed, so I didn't have to sit at lights idling with the brake on looking like I had gone through the light and idiotically stopped without continuing "forward." There were a few other drivers on the road, but they had more important things to do than worry about a car backing up. All they were interested in was me getting out of their way and their staying out of my way -- and how on earth would they have known that I was driving a car in reverse for over four miles?
So I made it home. My neck was sore as hell the next day, though.
The reason this bizarre true story from my past came to light is that Glenn Reynolds linked a very irritating article about government run amok.
By 2014 all new cars sold in the U.S. will have a factory installed back-up camera. These rear-view cameras, already standard on many luxury cars, could help prevent 300 death and 18,000 injuries. It's the law!All I can say is that law would have spared me a very sore neck if they'd had the cameras back in the old days. I wish they'd had them!
Except I'm wondering whether that's the purpose. Does the government really want to facilitate long distance driving in reverse? Hardly. I think the idea is the ongoing idiot-proofing of everything. The reason there are so many accidents caused by people driving in reverse is that there are so many incompetent drivers on the road who either don't or who can't look before backing up. The latter include fat people, people with back problems, and the elderly, and a whole host of clueless people who simply do not have the manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, brains, whatever it is you call it. For reasons that defy logic and common sense, the government experts who run everything are bound and determined to make it easier for them.
What they don't realize is that they're also going to make driving in reverse a lot easier for the people who are young, coordinated, and above all video-game savvy. I'm glad I'm not a teenager, because I can just see backup camera facilitated reverse street racing as the Next Big Thing. It's more fun than flying under instruments-only conditions.
Be the first on your block!
Hell, they're probably doing it already.
I'm sure it's a neat game once you get the hang of it.
Probably becomes second nature.
Almost makes me wish I were young so I could experiment.
(Everything will be so much safer.)
posted by Eric on 12.07.10 at 11:20 PM
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