Sunday, May 20, 2007

Big Idea Needed—Early Warning System for Cars

This story gets my goat. A month ago, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine was being driven at high speed in an official van—Corzine was in a rush to get to a non-essential meeting at the governor's mansion. The state trooper at the wheel had emergency flashers on and was doing 91 mph on the Garden State Parkway. As the press initially reported the story, a red pickup truck had "drifted off the road onto the grassy shoulder" then "swerved sharply back onto the road." This caused a Dodge Ramcharger in the right lane to move left to avoid the red pickup—and it bumped the side of the governor's van just as it was rocketing by. The van spun off the road and slammed sideways into a guardrail. Corzine, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown around the van's interior and sustained serious life-threatening injuries, including a badly shattered femur that was broken in two places.

Initially, the bad guy was designated as the driver of the red truck. Especially since he had left the scene. But he turned up later and was absolved. I'm guessing that when the red pickup driver suddenly spotted the fast-closing van with lights flashing, he swerved onto the grassy shoulder to get out of the way. Then he began to lose control on the grass and pulled back on the highway to stabilize his pickup. After investigating, The New York Times concluded: "It now seems clear that Mr. Corzine's own vehicle was responsible for the crash."

So there you have it. This accident was caused by a vehicle bearing down on law-abiding traffic at an outrageous 91 mph! How often has this happened to you? You're moving along in the middle lane with cruise control set at the speed limit (oh, well, maybe you've got it 3 or 4 mph above) and from out of nowhere a car, truck, or state trooper whooshes by in the left lane—traveling at least 20 mph faster than you are. Yikes! Where did that guy come from???

How about something in the car that warns you about an approaching "highway missile" five or ten seconds before it hurtles by? I'll start the ball rolling with the video below picturing an idea that might work. If you've got another idea, post it on my blog for the world to see.

NOTE TO GOVERNOR CORZINE: As you know, the femur is the longest and strongest bone in the human body. It also takes the longest to heal. Last Labor Day Weekend, I took an 8-foot fall and shattered the top of my femur in four places. I had surgery similar to yours. It took a full six months for my femur to fully heal. Good luck during the wait—and when you're back in the van, fasten your seat belt and ask your "NASCAR driver" to keep it under seventy.

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