These days, 24/7 news cycles can barely handle the glut of breaking news, let alone the latest developments in ongoing stories. And just when you think a behavior or a trend or a conspiracy theory can’t find the ‘next level,’ it does. Road safety and automotive news are not immune.
Driving expensive cars
Recently, Road Rules has addressed Vancouver’s spate of young drivers driving luxury sports cars at excessive speeds, stories that received national and international attention. Yet this past week, a UK story from South Yorkshire blew our speedster city away, reporting that within one hour of purchasing his $325,000 Ferrari 430 Scuderia, a British driver launched it airborne. On landing in the field beside the highway, it burst into flames. Soon the smoking wreck was unrecognizable as any kind of car. The good news is the driver escaped with minor injuries, although the police said he suffered “a sense of damaged pride.”
Los Banos crash
Then a story out of Los Banos, California took the horror of distracted driving to new levels. Instagramming while driving combined with impairment by alcohol reportedly resulted in an 18-year-old female driver crashing and killing her 14-year-old sister, an un-seat-belted passenger riding in the back seat with her friend, also unbelted. When the car veered out of control, both passengers were ejected. Miraculously the sister’s friend sustained only non-life-threatening injuries.
What made the Los Banos crash newsworthy, however, was that the driver somehow managed throughout the crash and its aftermath to keep streaming the video on Instagram. One of her followers reposted it, and the video went viral and remains accessible online. It shows the driver beside her sister’s body saying, “…I * killed my sister, OK? I know I’m going to jail for life. I understand that. I don’t * care, though. I’m sorry, baby. I’m gonna hold it down.”
Days later, the Los Banos driver pleaded not guilty to charges that could send her to prison for 13 years. In response to people appalled by the driver’s—detachment—her lawyer was quoted as saying people shouldn’t rush to judge her: “…based on a few minutes of a video clip when she’s a very young 18-year-old woman …They’ve never walked a single step in her shoes. They don’t know that she’s been a foster child, they don’t know that she’s been a victim of human trafficking.”
The third story, hardly sidebar material although first presented as such, may finally offer an answer to the mystery underlying the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal—What prompted the largest car company in the world employing some of the smartest automotive engineers and lawyers and public relations professionals to allegedly think they could fool regulators both at home and around the world?
Turns out Volkswagen’s gambit may (allegedly) have been part of something much bigger, namely illegal collusion by a de facto cartel composed of all the German auto companies—Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW—designed to control the price of technology crucial to making diesel vehicles competitive. With each of the companies possibly facing billions of euros in fines, expect further developments in this story.
Road Rules by Cedric Hughes and Leslie McGuffin