Thursday, January 31, 2013

Local fright-seeing

My job has taken me all over Houston these past couple of days, and I thought I'd take you on a little fright-seeing, I mean sight-seeing, tour of some of the stuff I have encountered.

Sometimes I use a dash cam to record what I see as I'm traveling around, and I've made a number of historical posts based on that very revealing little tool.  But a dash cam is characterized by a very inconvenient limitation: the technology at my price point is still very crude.  The resolution is not sufficient for capturing vital details. 

And sometimes I need absolute proof of details, such as license plate numbers.  I used to also keep a pad of paper and pencil on the center console of my vehicle.  When I would see something really atrocious, I would grope for the pencil and scribble down the license plate number without taking my eyes off the road, and also any other details such as name of the company if the roadway incident involved a commercial vehicle. 

But even this additional measure hasn't proven to be sufficient for my purposes.  Case in point.  One day a few years ago, I saw a big rig driving very dangerously in Pasadena - so dangerously that it blew my mind.  I wrote down as many details as I could, and then I pulled into a parking lot and called the company whose name was painted on the truck cab.  As I was describing what I had witnessed, the company representative on the phone became increasingly frightened.  I finished my story by saying, "I'm just relating these things to you so that you can discipline your driver."  The panicked person at the other end then replied, "But you don't understand:  we don't have any assets anywhere in the state of Texas.  What you saw was someone who had counterfeited a truck to make it look like one of ours, and God only knows what illegal cargo they hauled through Pasadena today."

There's some merit to all that rhetoric that comes out of Homeland Security, eh? (See also local resources here).  Ordinary citizens really are in the best position to spot what's wrong out there in our daily world.  I'm not talking about paranoia - I'm talking about being in a situation where you know there's something wrong, such as the incident described above. 

Given that it was their corporate identity that was infringed upon, I left that company to pursue this truck-spoofing issue with the authorities, but at that point I resolved to do a better job of capturing the details of what I see as I'm out there on the road.  Much of the time, I now travel with my DSLR right in my lap.   I can't take my eyes off the road, but I can raise the camera up much the same as I would lift up a can of soda, and I can just start taking pictures blindly when I see something interesting or dangerous.  If I simply take many, many pictures, one or two are bound to come out clearly. 

So let's focus on a phenomenon that I encountered yesterday afternoon.  This next series of photos shows one example of a disturbing trend I've noticed lately on the freeways: Truck drivers intentionally frightening motorists for sport

The usual disclaimers apply:  As with everything else I write on this blog, what I'm presenting here are my opinions as to what transpired in this event.  I saw things happening that involved me, and I interpreted those events within the context that made maximum sense to me.  I intentionally took pictures to document what I observed, but I'm not a police officer and no crime has been proven to have been committed here.  Other people might look at these same events and photos and reach different conclusions. 
The driver of this truck drew the focus of my attention because he literally and intentionally forced me out of my lane with his hyper-aggressive driving (in my opinion).  This is not the first time I have seen this occur.  What they do is "gun" their engines and run up behind you as if they were going to ram you.  At the last second, they slam on their brakes to avoid a collision, but even then, they often tailgate at absurdly close range. 

This is what I observed this trucker initially doing to me (I could not take pics of that part because he was behind me).  He forced me to take evasive action.  But after I had vacated this lane, I followed him, because I knew without question that he would proceed to inflict the same dangerous game upon another chosen motorist.

IH-45 SB inside Houston's Loop 610, 20130130 2:30 PM.
Where he had a bit of straightaway at his disposal, he was driving like a bat out of hell, so there was some lag time for me to catch up with him and his next chosen victim. 
Sure enough, he got onto the back of yet another unsuspecting target, in this case, a little passenger vehicle painted bright colors to represent a commercial company.  Do you see how severely he is tailgating that vehicle right in front of him?  In some moments, I saw that there was barely a car length between them, with both traveling at 65 mph.

IH-45 SB near the Wayside exit, obviously.
Here's another shot as we were approaching the South Loop.  Now you can get a clearer peek at the car in front of him that he had targeted (in my opinion).  Do you see how his brake lights are illuminated here?  That's because he was in the process of feigning the ramming of that little commercial vehicle (in my opinion).
Close-up screengrab from the photo above.  Don't simply accept my opinion.  See the lack of separation between these two vehicles.  See these other vehicles in the same field of view with appropriate high-speed separation among them.  See the brake lights illuminated on the truck.  Draw your own conclusions about what was going on here. 

Finally the little commercial vehicle in front of him had had enough, and he gunned his own engine to put space between the two of them, jumping into my lane to evade this trucker, the very same evasive manoeuvre that I myself had been forced to take only minutes before. 

Minutes before I fell back to his flank and took this photo series, that is.  This is just so incredibly wrong.  We should not be forced to take flee like this for no reason other than we just happen to have been a random sport target for some sonofabitch trucker (as I interpret it).   
As I was watching this whole spectacle unfold, I wondered what in the hell could motivate any trucker to risk his life, risk other innocent drivers' lives, and risk his own livelihood for the sake of this dangerous entertainment (as I personally interpret it). 

It wasn't until I got home and examined these photos blindly taken that I began to formulate a theory.  This guy is from Laredo (a fact I did not realize at the time because I was watching the road, not my camera).  Even if someone were to report his dangerous driving to the authorities, by the time word gets out, he's probably long gone from our freeways.  I'm wondering if he's thinking he's simply unaccountable, above the law, when he's having fun at our collective expense way up here in good ol' Houston, Texas. 

But guess what, Jorge?  You, too, live in the Information Age.  The good people of this world may not be able to pin any specific incident such as this on you, but sooner or later, you will get your just deserts

And now I will do what I have done at previous times:  I will take this material and forward it to the law enforcement agencies that might have an interest in it.  Occasionally in the past, very interesting developments have occurred after I have done that kind of thing. But I won't go into those details here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm forced to moderate comments because the spammers have become too much for me to keep up with. If you have a legitimate comment, I will post it promptly. Sorry for the inconvenience.