Monday, October 10, 2016

Tailgating: Proof that Humans Can Be the Stupidest Animal

My shift was over and I was driving back to the Flywheel garage on 101, heading toward the Cesar Chavez exit at 50 mph – the speed limit. The road was almost deserted but I could see another taxi following about 300 hundred yards behind me. I gradually slowed down as I moved into a circular off-ramp with a speed limit of 25 mph. I was about one-quarter of the way into the turn when the other taxi came up on me at twice my speed and started blasting his horn and wildly flashing his lights.

I still don't know what he wanted me to do. The exit was only one lane wide. Did he expect me to drive off the road so he could get by? Did he expect me to floor it and zoom to 80 mph to get him off my rear? What? More likely he didn't have expectations. Intelligence didn't appear to be part of his mental repertoire.

I guess I could have sped up a bit but homeless people live under that overpass and I didn't see any reason why I should risk (however remote the possibility) hitting one for the benefit of the cretin behind me.

In the California Driver's Handbook it says that if someone is following you too closely you should tap your brakes lightly to signal them to back off. On the other, you are advised not to do this if someone is tailgating you – probably because, if the blockhead was smart enough to know that he should slow down when you tapped the brakes, he wouldn't be on your ass in the first place.

I generally agree with this philosophy. However, I was peeved. A moment before I'd been totally relaxed. I'd had a decent shift and several good conversations with friendly people culminating in a wonderful ride with woman who was a fellow Mozart in the Jungle fanatic. I couldn't have been in a better mood.

And there I was being assaulted by a lobotomized, semi-psycho who had to have seen that I was driving much slower than he from a long, long way off. The twit had plenty of time to gradually slow down himself – as anyone with a quarter of a brain would have done. Furthermore, the freeway exit offered the choice of going Bayshore which would have taken him to the garage in approximately the same amount of time as Cesar Chavez.

In short, I wasn't blocking the crackpot's way. The imbecile created the situation for the sole purpose of harassing someone.

I jabbed the brakes with my left foot ready to hit the gas with my right in case the nitwit didn't brake himself. But he did – thus making the first smart choice of our relationship. But he immediately reversed this brief display of intellect by getting even closer to my bumper as I let the car slow down by itself for the remainder of the curve.

We eventually merged onto Cesar Chavez. I took the left lane and let him fly by.

When I got back to the garage, he was telling the gasman that I'd been driving 10 mph, which was true by the time I got to the bottom of the ramp. But that shouldn't have been a problem for him even if I had been driving that slowly on the freeway. There was nobody else on the road. He could've avoided me if I'd been backing up.

True to type he resembled Marty Feldman (see photo) both in face and physique. He looked and acted like a classic wimp who could only feel a sense of power with a car or a weapon. Using the car as a weapon thus acted as a neat solution to his sense of powerlessness.

But I'm psychobabbling.

On to the topic.


I'd like to say that this was a unique experience that is hardly the case. I never  go for a drive without somebody tailgating (defined as two seconds or less behind) me, although not always as aggressively as the dipstick in question. This is partly because I drive the speed limit but yesterday I was in a hurry and going 75 on 280 only to look in my mirror and see another zombie-eyed retard threatening to push me out of his way.

He was engaging in one of the more incomprehensible tailgating moves because the lanes to both my left and right were empty. If he was in a hurry all he had to do was make a lane change. I have sometimes driven like this for 10 or 20 miles just to see if the moron trailing me would take that option. In this case, I made the lane change and watched the bozo speed by until he found another bumper to suck.

Two more tailgating moves that defy rational explanation are: (1) speeding up to tailgate around a blind corner and (2) speeding up to tailgate through a yellow light turning red.

Do I have to explain why these are bad ideas? Probably, but the people I'd have to explain them to would be unlikely to grasp my point.

I used to teach driving and one my students started speeding up mid-block to make a right turn as a light was turning red – onto Mission no less. When I slowed him down he started laughing hysterically at my ridiculous caution. I told him that I'd already cashed his check so he could be as lame-brained as he wanted – when I wasn't in the car. But I did make him promise to call me and tell me his route any time he went driving – if the state ever showed the bad judgment to give him a license.

Why You Shouldn't Tailgate

My favorite tailgater was another cab driver who came flying up behind me, jamming my bumper as I was going into SFO at about 10 miles over the speed limit.

After we parked, I walked over to him and said that I'd appreciate it if he didn't do that again. He got out of his car and started screaming F-bombs at me, finally telling me to call the cops if I didn't like it.

Instead, I did something I rarely do (usually only to tailgaters). I threatened him but was so upset that I mixed my metaphors. The saying is supposed to be either ,"if you don't ... I'll drop you like a rock" or "I'll lay you like a rug."

What I said was, "I'll lay you like a rock."

Probably not as he effective but it did the trick because I spotted the knuckle-dragger glaring daggers at my back from time to time. That ended about 3 weeks later when I came to work and saw his taxi smashed in from both front and rear, looking like a three foot long accordion. My guess is that he tried to jam his taxi between two trucks and the first one must've hit the breaks then the second rear-ended him.

I never saw the doofus again but I hope he's well ... and in another line of work.

Anyone with common sense should know better than to engage in this behavior but as a philosopher once said, "there are few qualities more rare than common sense." Therefore, here is a video showing a tailgate accident and one or two articles on the effects of tailgating.

I want to add three ideas:

1. It is easier to pass a car if you are not tailgating because you will have more room to maneuver.

2. Tailgaters act like they're tough guys bullying everyone that gets in their way but they are the ones most likely to get hurt or killed because they are constantly putting themselves in accident situations.

3. Freeway accidents would almost disappear if people stopped tailgating. It's the only reason I like the idea of the self-driving car.

Have a safe day and remember, if you give yourself enough space, the odds will always be in your favor.

Note: I recently noticed that I've published 419 posts for this blog. This is unbelievable to me. I wrote the first one in March 2009. There was a time when this blog seemed relevant but I think that time is long past.

Whatever ideas I might express tend to be overwhelmed by the corruption and conceit of the people in positions of power and the faux-journalists writing about it. Not that I'm bitter. The corrupt intersection of business, politics and press is itself an interesting subject. But one that needs to be dealt with in a different form than a blog post. I may or may not be the writer to do it.

In the meantime, I have a few more posts to write before retiring my online rag. You've been warned.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance Report on AB 650 et al.

Hello – passing on the new that's fit to print from the SFTWA.

 Yesterday, the Board of Supervisors passed Supervisor Aaron Peskin's Resolution urging the State Legislature to amend or oppose AB 650, which would transfer taxi regulation everywhere but San Francisco to the California Public Utilities Commission.  The vote was 9-2, with Supervisors Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen voting "no".
San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance
It puts the city on record as opposing the bill unless it is amended to provide for county regulation of taxis.  Thanks to everyone who contacted the Supervisors to urge them to support the resolution.

Also yesterday, the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee voted to approve the bill (AB 650).  This was expected, but it still has a long ways to go.  Its next hearing is in August, at the Senate Appropriations Committee.  The city's position should help our chances there.
A wild card has been thrown into the equation with an announcement Monday that Governor Brown and some state legislators had reached a deal to move transportation regulation from the CPUC to the California State Transportation Agency, which includes the DMV and the Highway Patrol.  But the details of the deal are not clear, and there appears to be some disagreement between legislators and the governor about whether the CSTA would take over all transportation regulation, or if it would only be in charge of permits and enforcement, while the CPUC would continue to make the rules for transportation providers.

In any event, SFTWA remains opposed to AB 650 unless it is amended to provide for taxi regulation by counties.  Deregulating taxi fares, allowing companies to self-regulate in other areas and opening the door to practically anyone who wants to put a cab on the street are bad ideas, and they could someday spread to San Francisco.   

San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Against AB 2763: Against Changing the Definition of a "Private Vehicle" to Include Leasing

The following is a letter I send to the State Senate opposing the above rule change.

Hon. Ben Hueso, Chair Senate Energy, Utilities& Communications Committee State Capitol, Room 2209 Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Chair Hueso,

AB 2763, presented by Assembly Member Gatto, changes the definition of a “Personal Vehicle” in 5431 to mean the opposite of the ordinary meaning of term “Personal Vehicle.”

Instead of being a vehicle that is owned by a ‘Participating Driver” to use “in connection with a transportation network company’s online-enabled application or platform to connect with passengers”;” a “Personal Vehicle” becomes any vehicle that is “owned, leased, rented, or otherwise authorized for use for any period of time by the participating driver … that is not a taxicab or a limo.”

Thus “Personal” comes to mean “any or all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Opposition to AB 650

What follows are my arguments in opposition to State Senate bill AB 650. Like most people I didn't know that such a bill existed until it was almost to late to reply. This is all that I had time finish before the deadline for submissions. I will have a lot more to say in another post.

Hon. Ben Hueso, Chair
Senate Energy, Utilities &
Communications Committee
State Capitol, Room 2209

Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Chair Hueso,

AB 650 purports to “level the playing field” between taxis and TNCs by essentially deregulating the taxi industry instead of creating safer and more rational regulations for the TNCs. In doing so, AB 650 is much more likely to result in the destruction of the taxicab business than its salvation – at great cost to public safety and the environment.

For instance, the main reason why taxicabs are losing market share is because there are no limits on the numbers of Uber & Lyft vehicles put on the streets. AB 650 tackles this problem by saying that “there will be no limits on the number of vehicles (i.e. taxies)” either. In other words, the authors of this bill think that putting out more taxies is the solution to having too many taxi-like vehicles on the street already.

I hope that the Chair won’t think I’m being flippant when I suggest that the authors of this bill consider psychiatric care – because I’m not.

AB 650 is filled with too many clauses to go into here so I want to concentrate on a few regulations that are of special danger to the public as riders, drivers and pedestrians.

(1) AB 650 limits background checks “on acts involving violence, any sexual offense ... or felony offense, or offense involving the possession of a firearm … to seven years.” Taxi background checks in San Francisco, by contrast, go back to pick up any violent or sexual offense that a person ever committed.

Under AB 650 a person imprisoned for violent sexual offenses could walk out of lockup one day and be driving a taxi a week later. This is not an imaginary scenario.

Uber drivers with criminal convictions (who had passed background checks similar to those in AB 650) have been responsible for numerous accidents, assaults and rapes. Syed Musaffar, who hit and killed 6-year-old Sophia Liu with an Uber Vehicle in 2014, had been convicted of reckless driving 10 years earlier.

(2) AB 650 requires “the taxicab carrier to procure liability insurance at NO MORE THAN $100,000 … $300,000 for death and personal injury.”  Furthermore, it “Prohibits a city … or any local agency to require insurance in a manner different from that required by this article.”

As a former insurance underwriter, this is the strangest insurance rule that I have ever seen proposed. Insurance limits are rarely, if ever, capped. What is normally stated is the minimal amount needed like the $15,000/$30,000 limits to drive a car in California.

Furthermore, $100,000/$300,000 is inadequate to cover many death or injury accidents. The bills for the mother of Sophia Liu, who was severally injured in the above accident, went over $1,000,000.

As near as I can tell, the main purpose of this clause is to allow people who would not normally be considered financially responsible to drive cabs.

In the process, the bill guarantees that victims severally injured or killed in California taxicab accidents would not get just compensation. The bills from their injuries would be passed on to the state.

(3) The expanding numbers of new taxi drivers in cars without emission controls would result in ever-higher measures of greenhouse gases and ever-more gridlock.

Therefore I urge you to vote NO on AB 650


Friday, February 26, 2016

The Phantom Responds to Lyft's Whining About having to Inspect Their Vehicles Like Everyone Else Does




“…Lyft is not aware of any evidence in the record indicating that vehicles used by Lyft drivers which are predominantly used for non-commercial purposes present any greater risk of equipment failure than other personal vehicles with which TNCs share the road, which are not subject to any inspection requirements under California law.

My Reply,

The argument is beside the point. The mere fact that the vehicle is transporting people presents a greater risk to them thus making the inspections necessary.