Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dash cam, Part 1: Centerpointe sign-runners

Have you ever witnessed dangerous behavior in traffic and thought, "OMG, nobody would ever believe me if I told them that I actually saw someone do that!"  And then you wonder what you might do to help counteract the likes of it. 

I had an epiphany after witnessing two separate child-endangering traffic violations committed by parents dropping kids at Victory Lakes Intermediate School for the morning WAVE bus pick-up.  Of all people, you'd think WAVE parents would have better judgment, as higher intelligence is rumored to run in the families of GT kids.  But of course, intelligence is not always correlated with either common sense or politeness.

So with this epiphany, I decided to try something more proactive than griping about flagrant violators.  For sixty bucks, I bought a dash cam: a DVR that looks much like a radar detector but is actually a faithful e-sentinel, looping through a continuous video recording of everything that transpires in front of it.

This video clip below shows my approach to the neighborhood northbound on Walker, followed by not one but two successive stop sign runners - a gold sedan at Walker and Centerpointe followed by a black pick-up truck just fifteen seconds and one block later at Centerpointe and Willow Pointe:

(Sorry about the Gaye DeLorme tune blasting in the background!
And this was shot March 24, not March 1 - I need to change the date stamp)

Neither of these drivers so much as slowed down at their respective intersections.  Many years ago when I first got my license, drivers at least had the courtesy to "fake it" by coming to a rolling stop rather than a full stop.  Not these days - they just blast right through the signs as fast as they can without skidding out. 

This is only my first day's DVR trial, and running stop signs is by no means the most egregious violation someone could commit, but this video speaks to attitude:  the majority of suburban drivers now disregard traffic controls signs, period.  I could go out there right now and shoot another thirty seconds that would show basically this same scene.  The majority of drivers speed, and the majority of drivers ignore signs.  No exaggeration: A 2010 Houston Chronicle investigative report found that 92% of drivers were speeding on Clear Lake City Boulevard, an arterial that has an unusually high speed limit to start with!  

So for all of you who feel that local, state, and federal regulations do not apply to you personally, I say this:

Go ahead, make my automotive day.  Keep doing the ignorant things that you do, and you might find yourself to be the next blog-embedded neighborhood YouTube star.  You might not end up in a Court of Law because of it, but in certain instances the Court of Public Opinion might prove to be comparably unpleasant, because there are many of us who are fed up with the hell-on-wheels behavior to which our neighborhood is subjected on a daily basis.  Perhaps the peer pressure of knowing that "candid car camera" is out there can help to stimulate the type of compliance and courtesy that regulation, law enforcement, and personal conscience are obviously all failing to inspire. 

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