Today’s Darwin Award nominee comes to us from the 101 Freeway “northbound” (which is really due west, but that’s a different rant) at Kanan.
Traffic was light and moving at “maximum freeway speed,” which is a CHP euphemism for “everyone’s speeding & even the slow traffic is doing 70+ in a 65 zone.” There are four lanes at that point, plus a merging on/off lane that starts on at the previous onramp and is an exit-only lane when you get to Kanan.
The Kanan offramp was closed. There was one of those portable warning signs prior to the previous exit (Chesbro) so folks had plenty of advance notice and a chance to get off the freeway one exit early. Once past Chesbro, that merging on/off lane was gradually coned off to be blocked completely well before Kanan. The cones were accompanied by all of the usual fluorescent orange signs, again warning that the lane was closed, the ramp was closed, and pointing toward the detour route.
At Kanan, the offramp itself was clear, leading uphill toward the overpass and surrounding streets. The ramp closure was caused by four or five large trucks parked just a few feet short of the offramp, working on replacing some street lighting poles or poles for signs.
If you missed the multiple warning signs prior to Chesbro, the following exit (Reyes Adobe) is only a mile down the road. Whether you got off at Chesbro or Reyes Adobe, there are multiple major streets running parallel to the freeway on both sides, leaving a LOT of options to get to your destination without exiting at Kanan.
In addition, even if you’re unfamiliar with the area, doesn’t just about everyone have a map and GPS app on their phone? The worst case scenario here should be having to endure that smug and sanctimonious tone from the synthesized GPS voice while she drones “Recalculating” over and over.
Not for our candidate.
She was driving a large Urban Assault Vehicle, an Escalade or something like that. Black, of course. As soon as the merging on/off lane started, she pulled into it, obviously clueless and expecting to exit. As the cones started blocking the lane, she started slowing and inching back into traffic, nearly picking off someone in the process, because she’s of course now confused and thinking about the cones and the closed lane in front of her, not the traffic shooting by her at 65+ mph that she’s merging back into at 40 mph.
Back in traffic, faced with all of these orange warning signs, confused, she started slowing. And slowing. And slowing.
Meanwhile, traffic continues to zip past and around her at “maximum freeway speed,” and most dangerously, come up behind her that fast. Still, she keeps slowing to a crawl as she pulls up next to the work crews.
Then, presumably because she’s a freakin’ idiot and maybe thinks she’s got good ground clearance as well as a god-given right to drive wherever she damn well pleases, she does a sharp right turn to head across the landscaping (ice plant, I think) and up the embankment that makes up the side of the offramp. If she can just get up over the side and onto the offramp pavement behind the work crew, she’s home free!
I was over in the #2 lane coming up from well behind at first, so I got to see the whole show up to that point. I didn’t slow down or stop to see how it ended, but when I came back the other way an hour later the area wasn’t filled with tow trucks and ambulances, so her stupidity might have gone unpunished.
I’ll grant, if you’re stupid enough to pull this stunt, you’re probably too stupid to be able to use the GPS or a map. The converse is also true.
There are a lot of questions I wonder about after seeing this.
Why are morons like this are allowed on the roads in the first place? (I’m assuming that she has a driver’s license – that might be a bad assumption.)
Was her judgment impaired by something? Alcohol? Drugs, prescription or otherwise? Not that it would be any kind of an excuse at all, but possibly an explanation of sorts.
Was she surprised by the closure, missing all the signs and warnings, because she was texting or on the phone? I don’t know, I couldn’t see her at that point. Both texting and being on the phone without a hands-free device are illegal in California – but so is exceeding 65 mph along that stretch of freeway. If there’s any enforcement of the texting/phone laws it’s the best kept secret in the state. (That also is a rant for another day.)
More importantly, given the vehicle and what they’re often used for, I have to wonder how many kids were in the car.
How would you react if it’s her day to drive car pool and she’s got her kids, plus yours, plus a couple others in there?
Maybe I wonder about that because I remember times as a kid when my mother (“Bless her little heart!” and in this case I mean it in the sweetly sarcastic way that women in the Deep South use it) did things almost as stupid and life-threatening with me and my siblings in the car.
Things like that stick with you, I guess.