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11 May 2007

The arguably American traits of optimism and self-denial... (NYT link) [More:]
— the nothing-bad-is-going-to-happen-to-me mentality — also affect (this) trend...

aka Flying Mattresses at 75 m.p.h. -- a report on the increasingly dangerous problem of road debris from unsecured loads, specifically in cali.

we have lots of random debris in the roadway here in CO as well.

weirdest thing i ever saw in the road was a helicopter parked halfway up lefthand canyon. i dont think it was classifiable as debris tho. to this day i have no clue what the fack it was doing there. there was nobody in it when i rode past... if i knew how to fly a helicopter i'd have been tempted to check if the keys were in it. mebbe fire control or surveyors?

grossest thing in the road around here is exploded rattlesnakes, they stink to high hell. it's snake season now, woo.
It's pretty prevalent in Canada too, roads on the last day of the month are rife with loads inadequately tied down if they are tied down at all.

The land fills all have warnings that uncovered loads will be ticketed but I've never actually seen anyone get a ticket.

Much of the problem IMHO is you can get a licence to drive an open truck without having to prove you know how to use one safely. If everyone had to pass a test on the minimums of securing a load at least you'd know it was arrogance and not ignorance.
posted by Mitheral 11 May | 19:57
In Portsmouth, NH I once saw most of a bedroom set smashed to tiny bits all over the traffic circle. In Detroit I came across a wheel chair in the middle of Woodward Avenue. On I-75 in the middle of Michigan we came across someone's clothes spread over about 6 miles of highway. A CTA truck in Chicago nearly took out the car I was in with a large flying hunk of metal debris. On I-96 we recently had to avoid a large bloated cow carcass. On highway 101 in Cali it was a large rolled up rug and in St. Louis it was a smashed-up fridge.
posted by arse_hat 11 May | 19:59
I think this plate of beans have been overthunk. If there's more crap on the road in California I think it can be mostly explained by the basic facts amphasized below, without resorting to an assault on the American character:

By dint of its climate, size, population, lengthy growing season, increasingly long commutes and, perhaps, its casual lifestyle, California is a road-debris leader. It is also home to the country’s largest number of registered vehicles — 32 million, twice that of No. 2 Texas...

It doesn't take a cultural anthropologist.

I am guilty of driving with unsecured loads. I don't think I've lost anything, but I have had to avoid a full sheet of plywood.

My favorite unsecured-load story comes from my summer camp. A few years before my time, they used to travel to canoe put-ins in a 1940something Blue Jay bus with a homebuilt wooden roof rack on it. The canoes were passed up to people who sat on the roof rack and bungied them down. Predictable result: on one trip, the front bungie over four canoes came loose, lift took effect, and the four canoes lifted up into the air, "like a bouquet" it is said in the legend, and sailed down in four directions all over the highway.

It is such a good thing that Southern NJ highways are so sparsely used. Otherwise some poor unlucky person could have met their end when, out of the clear blue sky, an aluminum Grumman canoe burst through their windshield.
posted by Miko 11 May | 20:13
p.s. I was directing my comments at the reporter, not you, lfr.
posted by Miko 11 May | 20:24
I once had to dodge a clothes dryer in the middle of an interstate, not a mile from my house. I think the most common road debris in Atlanta is ladders (from contractor trucks), but I find that people are pretty creative in what they forget to tie down around here. I've even seen a piano laying on the edge of the road on a flyover bridge (it sat there for WEEKS).
posted by BoringPostcards 11 May | 20:59
"I am guilty of driving with unsecured loads." Was that your bedroom set all over the traffic circle Miko? ;>
posted by arse_hat 11 May | 21:12
It's no laughing matter to me.

Last year, while we were driving home from vacation in heavy traffic on the I-5, an SUV in front of me swerved out of the way, revealing a large desk that had just fallen off the truck ahead and plunked down square in my lane. I had no time and no opportunity to swerve; there were cars on either side of me, and if I went into either lane I very well could have killed someone. So -- screaming at the top of my lungs -- I hit the desk head-on, doing about 70. I was positive, for a couple of truly terrifying seconds, that my boyfriend and I were about to die.

Amazingly, we weren't hurt and my car wasn't totalled (though there was a good amount of damage); the desk essentially exploded and scattered on impact, though I still I worry that shards of board could have gone through someone else's windshield.

So, you know: please secure your loads, folks. Or rent a damn U-Haul.
posted by scody 11 May | 21:34
Back when I did major appliance work I saw the aftermath of several insecure loads. It was often ranges that met the pavement at 100. People would load their trucks with the fridge at the front, the range in the middle and the D/W at the back. They'd "tie" the fridge (I guess because it sticks up) and the D/W (after all it's right at the back, sometimes with the tailgate down) but skip the range (it's in the middle, where's it going to go?). But get the right bump and the range would get propelled right over the side and onto the road. The damage was impressive.

Even when people made an effort the range of "tie downs" was amazing. Everything from duct tape, clothes line (both the nylon type and the vinyl coated cable), thru twine and twisted shirts tied end to end (not completely crazy, a good quality piece of linen twisted into a rope is stronger than the equivalent size conventional rope made from hemp or manila).
posted by Mitheral 11 May | 21:35
No, no... This is good:

Friend of mine is driving down a divided, three lane highway with a couch on a flatbed trailer. Couch falls off, lands in the center lane of the highway. Friend pulls to the side of the road, wonders what in the heck to do now. Meanwhile, mustang driving behind a slower car passes said car - quickly pulling into the center lane, or rather, the couch lane. Smashes directly into the couch. Couch is obliterated. Mustang slides into right wall of highway, ahead of friend and trailer. Friend runs to check on mustang driver, who is ok but says, "That couch came out of nowhere!" Friend calls the cops, checks on mustang guy again... and drives off... empty trailer in tow.
posted by youngergirl44 11 May | 21:37
no worries Miko. i was more curious about the phenomenon. we have some CRAZY shit that goes down out on I-25 owing to debris in the road.

well and then all the angst i have owing to all the various carpentry & building supplies that seem to get dropped everywhere. a few weeks ago i encountered what must have been an entire case of roofing nails spilt upon the bike lane.
posted by lonefrontranger 11 May | 23:19
The other week, I saw three bikes with tacoed front wheels on the side of the interstate. I was tempted to stop for them, making mental calculations about their worth, but I decided it wasn't a good idea.
posted by drezdn 12 May | 01:23
Academics worry that leaving hundreds of bodies out to rot might attract buzzards. || Damn, damn, Damn, DAMN!