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  • What I am going to write about is not an IT WTF but still I thought I might share this little story. I also apologize for this being a bit lengthy and for my grammar. Then again, noone forces you to read this...

    A while ago I was riding my bike back from uni on a rainy day. All of a sudden a speeding BMW passed me barely missing my handlebar - I could actually feel the side mirror touching it. If he had even been one centimeter further to the right he would have rammed me into the parked cars. As if this hadn't been good enough, the driver immediately turned into the side street  ahead of me (without even using his blinker) and came to an unexpected halt as there was another car in front of him. In other words he cut me off and I was forced to brake in order to avoid smashing into his rear. Due to the rainfall the streets were obviously quite wet so my bike slipped away under me and I somehow managed to land on my feet. I was quite unpleased about this to say the least. I approached the passenger window, expecting him to roll down the window so I could verbally abuse him. Well, he did not even bother to do that, made some some gesture that he did not care and drove off without even inquiring whether I was alright.

    I'm not really a vengeful person but I didn't feel like letting him get away with that grossly negligent behaviour - especially after almost having me slammed into the parked cars and possibly having me killed. I called up the police and got asked whether I had been injured or the bike damaged. In such a case it would have been two criminal offences (one for the incident, one for taking off). But in my case there was nothing really they could do. Ironically I cursed about that fact... Damn, not even the slightest scratch or bruise! Nevertheless, the officer on the phone told me to file a complaint.

    The same day, after a long night of programming and watching a few episodes of scrubs I decided to take a break, grabbed a good book and walked down to the police station around the corner. A few pages later an officer finally attended to me. He asked me what sort of report I wanted filed and told him that I wasn't sure, and suggested that it might be "Nötigung". I am not sure what the English term is, but it basically stands for some sort of Coercion or Duress. For example, that term is widely used for incidents in which someone coerces other drivers to change lanes or evasive maneuvers to make space for the (possibly speeding) offender. Likewise I assumed that this would be the case if he thwarted me. I knew that it didn't really matter anyway what I called it, as a state attorney usually decides about such things. So we sat down and I started to tell him the story. As a side note: I noticed he was writting the protocol onto a piece of paper while sitting next to the computer. Curiously I inquired why he didn't simply type it down to which he answered that it takes him ages and that he will do so later. After suggesting that I could just type it for him he became quite disgrunteled. I assume he didn't like the thought of someone laying hands on the sacred and prehistoric computer of his which btw was apparently lacking any GUI (and I'm not refering to some type of shell but rather some sort of DOSish looking editor... go figure).

    Towards the end the officer looked up and asked me, why this was supposed to be an offence. "Nötigung" would require premeditation! He became even more sulky and upset and made a big fuzz about this. After his rant, I timidly apologized assuming the effort had been in vain and that I wasted the officer's precious time. I asked if this matter had to be dropped then. Hesitantly he conceded that it was a delict that could be fined for the driver not maintaining the required distance to me. So I expressed my wish to file a complaint about this if it was ok, fearing he would get even more upset by starting the whole process over again on a new form. After a long stern gaze he scribbled something on the document and checked off another tick and declared the report finished. He told me that the offender would be fined a small sum of 15€ or such. That was rather unsatisfying but at least I hoped that the driver might think twice next time. That was the end of the story....not!

    Few months passed and I received a letter summoning me to a court hearing regarding that incident as a witness. I realized in disbelieve that the other guy must have had appealed to the lousy 15€ fine! Thus, a few weeks later I grabbed another book and walk down to the criminal court around the other corner (I know, I live close to both :D ). A few pages and cuffed crooks later I was asked into the court room. To my right I found a state attorney and to my left the former and involuntary acquaintance of mine accompanied by a lawyer. What a waste of court time and resources... Again I calmly told my version of the story. The lawyer did his job inquiring about specific details about speed, time-line, distance and such. Of course, it had been a while ago and thus my memory was not that detailed anymore. Frankly, I did not really care anymore anyway.

    The accused got quite agitated and started to call me a 'militant cyclist', claimed that he was the actual victim. He also came up with a creative justification for why he abruptly turned his car after having passed me. He said that I was evidently so upset about the near collision that I chased after his BMW in anger. When he saw me coming up from behind with high speed, he thought I might crash into him. In order to safe my life he commenced an evasive maneuver by making his attempt to turn into the side street. His baby-son was in the backseat and thus he not only risked his life but that of his son as well by this heroic attempt to safe me. I knew there are plenty of cheap excuses but this one really made me loose my speech. Judging from the judge's bewildered face I wasn't the only one who felt that way. I did not even bother to mention that it was exactly that maneuver that cut me off as I was too busy trying not to laugh.

    Nevertheless, the judge's decision was predictable: The fine was dropped as one person's word stood against another's. I shrugged and was about to leave when the driver approached me and started yelling at me. To my surprise he accused me of costing him 700€ which pretty much caught my attention. After carefully listening to his rant I learned that he spent that much on his lawyer, who by the way was neither required nor had been of any use anyway (after all this was just a fine and not a criminal charge). While I tried to maintain a straight face he continued his fuming speech threatening me to sue me to get that money back which, of course, would have no legal ground either. The amused judge strolled by and made a remark for him to calm down. With a smirk he added that just because the fine was dropped didn't mean he was innocent. I guess it did not only make my day...



     

     



  • Wow, what a great story!  So he could've paid the 15 bucks and have been done with it, but instead got stuck paying over 700!  I hope you laughed in his face when he told you about this.



  • Good for you for pursuing a fine for that. I can't believe he actually hired a lawyer to contest a 15 euro fine. Us cyclists have it hard... most vehicles think we're pedestrians. I've been cut off several times, and the usual response is a surprised "Oh, I didn't see you there." Yeah, good excuse. Try looking next time.

     The law is on our side, we just need to act. There's a good resource here.
     



  • I sympathize with your situation and I'm sorry you were put through it. However, because misery loves company, I find myself a little gratified (and saddened) to learn that myopic, socially malformed drivers are not unique to the United States.

    The copious and indiscriminate granting of driver's licenses to everyone who applies is its own WTF. (And I have a feeling this is destined to become a very long thread.)



  • @VGR said:

    I sympathize with your situation and I'm sorry you were put through it. However, because misery loves company, I find myself a little gratified (and saddened) to learn that myopic, socially malformed drivers are not unique to the United States.

    The copious and indiscriminate granting of driver's licenses to everyone who applies is its own WTF. (And I have a feeling this is destined to become a very long thread.)

     

    Unfortunately, having a proper examination does not prevent that :(

    In France we do have one, but we still end up with people

    - Not using their turn lights (blinkers ? whatever the name is in English)

    - Changing lanes without looking into their mirrors, let alone looking back into their dead spot

    - Who do not know how to use a rondabout

    - Who cannot help getting in the middle of an intersection even if their is no hpe to exit it before the light changes

    ...

     

    I guess having a mandatory inspection & refresh every now and then would really annoying, but it might be  the only way to keep people from taking on bad habits.




  • @Denis Troller said:

    @VGR said:

    I sympathize with your situation and I'm sorry you were put through it. However, because misery loves company, I find myself a little gratified (and saddened) to learn that myopic, socially malformed drivers are not unique to the United States.

    The copious and indiscriminate granting of driver's licenses to everyone who applies is its own WTF. (And I have a feeling this is destined to become a very long thread.)

     

    Unfortunately, having a proper examination does not prevent that :(

    In France we do have one, but we still end up with people

    - Not using their turn lights (blinkers ? whatever the name is in English)

    - Changing lanes without looking into their mirrors, let alone looking back into their dead spot

    - Who do not know how to use a rondabout

    - Who cannot help getting in the middle of an intersection even if their is no hpe to exit it before the light changes

    ...

     

    I guess having a mandatory inspection & refresh every now and then would really annoying, but it might be  the only way to keep people from taking on bad habits.


    You sure you're not actually in New Jersey? Because it sounds a lot like you live here. I do like the idea of mandatory driving retests every 5 years or so.



  • @Denis Troller said:

    In France we do have one, but we still end up with people

    ... 

    French drivers are notorious around the world for being pretty much homicidal. There's a saying that you can tell when a pedestrian is crossing the street in France from the sound of all the cars accelerating. 



  • About 15 years ago I was driving a taxi to make some extra cash, when three guys decided to run away from the 6 Euro fare.

    I got hold of on of them while the police who were on the same street came to the spot.

    A long story short, the guy I took, and who got arrested for violently resiting arrest, got fines and lawyer costs for about 1200 Euro!
    I got about 100 Euro rewarded for lost income and for him making threats at me.

    Some dumb shit... 



  • @flaquito said:

    Good for you for pursuing a fine for that. I can't believe he actually hired a lawyer to contest a 15 euro fine. Us cyclists have it hard... most vehicles think we're pedestrians. I've been cut off several times, and the usual response is a surprised "Oh, I didn't see you there." Yeah, good excuse. Try looking next time.

    In the UK there is a specific term for this "I didn't see you" and it is called "Driving without due care and attention". If you had a witness to such a claim he could be in big trouble! 



  • @Denis Troller said:

    @VGR said:

    I sympathize with your situation and I'm sorry you were put through it. However, because misery loves company, I find myself a little gratified (and saddened) to learn that myopic, socially malformed drivers are not unique to the United States.

    The copious and indiscriminate granting of driver's licenses to everyone who applies is its own WTF. (And I have a feeling this is destined to become a very long thread.)

     

    Unfortunately, having a proper examination does not prevent that :(

    In France we do have one, but we still end up with people

    - Not using their turn lights (blinkers ? whatever the name is in English)

    - Changing lanes without looking into their mirrors, let alone looking back into their dead spot

    - Who do not know how to use a rondabout

    - Who cannot help getting in the middle of an intersection even if their is no hpe to exit it before the light changes

    ...

    I guess having a mandatory inspection & refresh every now and then would really annoying, but it might be  the only way to keep people from taking on bad habits.

    I'm pretty sure that's a global phenomenon. You should visit Greece some time. The range of imbeciles is amazing.

    I've reached a point now were I try to train them. There is a a certain intersection near my house where I always have priority (the other streets have stop signs) and yet every now and then I see people just breeze through it. I've seen it so often that I can recognize them before they cross, so I just accelerate, brake hard right before the intersection with the horn blaring (provided of course there's noone behind me to slam into me) and swear at them like a sailor. This achieves two things. I vent some of the day's stress and I teach them to obey stop signs.

    It may be unorthodox but you can bet they'll be more careful at the next intersection and someone will not end in the hospital or worse :) 



  • @asuffield said:

    French drivers are notorious around the world for being pretty much homicidal. There's a saying that you can tell when a pedestrian is crossing the street in France from the sound of all the cars accelerating. 

    Bahaha!

     

    All I know is that people tend to be reduced to bewildered beasts when driving. I'm sure psychology articles have been written on this.



  • Great story.

    Though it is not always the driver's fault. Where I live, when a cyclist (or pedestrian) and a car collide, the driver is automatically considered guilty unless he manages to prove that he could have done nothing to avoid the accident, and this does mean nothing. Drivers are expected to account for minor traffic offences by cyclists. It pretty much takes a suicide attempt.

    The fact that any witnesses usually flee from the scene immediately to avoid the whole 'criminal gang wants you dead' deal that comes with witnessing according to Hollywood does not help either.

    Collisions occur fairly often, usually due to the fact that most cyclists under the age of 40 tend to commit about twenty traffic offences in ten minutes. Riding in rows of three in the middle of the road (sometimes even in the opposite lane) while chatting loudly, taking corners wide like a motorcycle racer, and ignoring all signs and traffic lights that do not benefit them are the top three.



  • @Denis Troller said:

    Unfortunately, having a proper examination does not prevent that :(

    In France we do have one, but we still end up with people

    - Not using their turn lights (blinkers ? whatever the name is in English)

    Similar in england, we have a quite strict test, but some people still can't drive. 

    Oh, and they're called "indicators" (at least in england, dunno about the US), although we understood turn lights fine. The one I find annoying is when they indicate right to go round a roundabout but don't turn the indicator off before they turn LEFT to leave the roundabout. Makes the right indicator effectively meaningless.

    @Denis Troller said:


    - Who do not know how to use a rondabout

    I actually saw someone going the wrong way round a large roundabout the other day. How they missed the massive arrow signs, the other cars, or the fact that all the lanes leading to the roundabout are at an angle so it would be nearly a 180 turn to go the wrong way, I don't know.

    @Denis Troller said:

    - Who cannot help getting in the middle of an intersection even if their is no hpe to exit it before the light changes

    We have yellow boxes on intersections where it's illegal to enter if you can't exit, and people still do it.

    @Denis Troller said:

    I guess having a mandatory inspection & refresh every now and then would really annoying, but it might be  the only way to keep people from taking on bad habits.

    I agree that that's a must. Though we also need a quick and easy way of figuring out who is driving without a valid license, before they get involved in an accident and have to produce it.



  • I am a firm believer in Draconian "anti-bad-driver" laws.  I've been physically pushed off the road by an 18-wheeler that took my disabled car as a free license to get away, only a year after being rear-ended by an uninsured motorist (which is against the law here in itself).  I personally believe that a firing squad would be appropriate, if it weren't for the shameful waste of perfectly good bullets.

    Instead, how about outfitting vehicles with "smart keys" that contain license, registration and insurance information?  Don't have insurance?  Your car won't start.  Bypass the security measures?  A computerized GPS unit (as opposed to the non-computerized GPS units?) in the car signals the police that a vehicle is being operated outside the boundaries of the law and would they please come and make sure that the driver doesn't continue wasting oxygen through his continued abuse of the gift of life.

    Interestingly enough -- and a WTF in its own right -- the uninsured idiot that rear-ended me as I was patiently waiting at a red light on a slightly rainy day contacted me several months after the incident, asking that I absolve him of all responsibility for the accident...

    So he could get a job...

    Driving a BUS!



  • Story is really amazing...

    Someone told me another much like the one you wrote (i don't remember the detail).

    Ah, and speaking about "drivers' quality", I get that all over the world, exam or not, it seems that (as we say here) "idiots' mother is always pregnant".

    Yes, I'm Italian. Yes I know French drivers. Both sucks. I admit I travel a little bit too fast.
     



  • @dhromed said:

    All I know is that people tend to be reduced to bewildered beasts when driving. I'm sure psychology articles have been written on this.

    That reminds me actually of Motor Mania. All links to this 6 min short movie seem to have taken off the net except this one, which is unfortunately only in german: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3XGw__unjQ



  • @studean said:

    Instead, how about outfitting vehicles with "smart keys" that contain license, registration and insurance information?  Don't have insurance?  Your car won't start.  Bypass the security measures?  A computerized GPS unit (as opposed to the non-computerized GPS units?) in the car signals the police that a vehicle is being operated outside the boundaries of the law and would they please come and make sure that the driver doesn't continue wasting oxygen through his continued abuse of the gift of life.

    Such a system would be readily abused by everybody, including the insurance companies. Not worth it. Just boost the penalties so that on the second offence for any kind of stupid or dangerous driving, the idiot is banned from the public roads for life. Driving a large dangerous weapon is a privilege, not a right.

    (Mandatory jail terms and confiscation of the vehicle for anybody driving under a ban, of course)
     



  • @Thief^ said:

    Oh, and they're called "indicators" (at least in england, dunno about the US)

    You mean those lights you use to signal other drivers that you're turning? Yeah, we call them "turn signals". Wacky, I know. 



  • @flaquito said:

    Good for you for pursuing a fine for that. I can't believe he actually hired a lawyer to contest a 15 euro fine. Us cyclists have it hard... most vehicles think we're pedestrians. I've been cut off several times, and the usual response is a surprised "Oh, I didn't see you there." Yeah, good excuse. Try looking next time.

     The law is on our side, we just need to act. There's a good resource here.

    The law may be on the side of bicyclists, but the actions many of them are taking to demonstrate that is causing them to lose in the court of public opinion.

    If you're on the sidewalk, then as far as I'm concerned, you're a pedestrian, and I expect you to behave like one.  That means crossing the street at a crosswalk, and only with the light.  That means no darting out into traffic to get around other pedestrians.

    If, on the other hand, you're in the street, you're a vehicle, and I expect you to behave like one.  That means making a reasonable effort to go the speed limit, staying in your lane, signalling your turns, and obeying stop signs and traffic lights.  It also means taking reasonable steps to make yourself visible: headlights and taillights at night, bright-colored clothing during the day; if you're wearing urban camoflage, then don't be surprised when I don't see you.



  • Blinkers is common too (or it was when I was learning to drive)



  • @Carnildo said:

    If you're on the sidewalk, then as far as I'm concerned, you're a pedestrian, and I expect you to behave like one. That means crossing the street at a crosswalk, and only with the light. That means no darting out into traffic to get around other pedestrians.

    I do that all the time when I'm a pedestrian... 



  • @asuffield said:

    @Carnildo said:

    If you're on the sidewalk, then as far as I'm concerned, you're a pedestrian, and I expect you to behave like one. That means crossing the street at a crosswalk, and only with the light. That means no darting out into traffic to get around other pedestrians.

    I do that all the time when I'm a pedestrian... 



    If cars aren't going to stop for me at the crosswalk, I see no reason why I should wait for the crosswalk before I cross the road. When I can, though I wait for enough of a break in traffic that the cars should not have to react to me crossing.



  • @SuperousOxide said:

    @asuffield said:
    @Carnildo said:

    If you're on the sidewalk, then as far as I'm concerned, you're a pedestrian, and I expect you to behave like one. That means crossing the street at a crosswalk, and only with the light. That means no darting out into traffic to get around other pedestrians.

    I do that all the time when I'm a pedestrian...



    If cars aren't going to stop for me at the crosswalk, I see no reason why I should wait for the crosswalk before I cross the road. When I can, though I wait for enough of a break in traffic that the cars should not have to react to me crossing.

     

    The difference is who pays the medical bills when you get hit.
     


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