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Toys

Geek and Gadgets Set Cross-US Speed Record 805

Posted by kdawson
from the breaker-breaker-need-a-bear-check dept.
Brikus writes "And you thought your car had gadgets. In this story from Wired magazine, we hear about Alex Roy and his quest to break the record time for a cross-USA road trip. One of the biggest roadblocks to breaking the record: highway patrol officers, about 31,000 along the way. So Roy decked out his E39 BMW M5 with a thermal camera, radar/laser detectors, GPS devices, police scanners, and other high-tech gadgets and toys."
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Geek and Gadgets Set Cross-US Speed Record

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  • Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:20AM (#21006643)
    Step 1: Speed across the United States while at the same time documenting your lawbreaking for all to see
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Profit???
  • How stupid... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustShootMe (122551) * <rmiller@duskglow.com> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:25AM (#21006679) Homepage Journal
    Wow. If this guy doesn't get warrants out for his arrest because of this story I'll be really surprised.

    Congrats, Roy, I guess. Try not to drop the soap :P

    (I woulda called the highway patrol on him too.)
  • Alternate headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Solder Fumes (797270) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:25AM (#21006681)
    How about: "Geek sets record by breaking the law and endangering innocent men, women, and children in selfish quest to do something pointless"

    Seriously, this doesn't push any boundaries of technology or vehicle science. It tests two things: being able to stay awake, and being able to break laws and get away with it. Here they are tearing across the country in a car filled with distracting devices, sleep deprivation, fatigue, driving at unsafe speeds near vehicles filled with normal people trying to get to work or school.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:26AM (#21006687)
    32h07m divided by 31,000 highway cops means driving past one patrol officer on average every 3.7 seconds. How can the gadgets help under such circumstances?
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tmk (712144) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:36AM (#21006737)

    Wow. If this guy doesn't get warrants out for his arrest because of this story I'll be really surprised.
    There is a certain possibility, that he could be killed.
  • by glittalogik (837604) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:42AM (#21006773)
    Don't mistake haemorrhoids for testicles. He might be a dick, but he's definitely an asshole.

    If you want to do something gutsy, go skyjumping, base jumping, downhill mountain-biking. Something that doesn't run the risk of injuring or killing innocent bystanders who want nothing to do with you.
  • What a bastard. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zig007 (1097227) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:51AM (#21006819)
    What a fucking bastard.
    To call him a geek is an insult to me and all other geeks i know of.

    To endanger other people's lives like this is utterly despicable.
    Obviously, he doesn't care if he kills someone along the way. If he did, he wouldn't do this.
    Or what, is he a superhumanly safe driver is some non-imaginative way? Not fucking likely.

    Put that asshole in jail(it would be OK to lose the key) right now, for showing that he has the obvious intent to go out try to kill people.

    And why Slashdot sinks to the depths of publishing such a positively toned article about this psycho is far beyond me.

  • Re:How stupid... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by belmolis (702863) <billposerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:52AM (#21006827) Homepage

    Hear, hear! I hope they jail the SOB. These people aren't rebels or pioneers, they're dangerous sociopaths. They shouldn't be on the roads.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:54AM (#21006833) Journal
    Here they are tearing across the country in a car filled with distracting devices, sleep deprivation, fatigue, driving at unsafe speeds near vehicles filled with normal people trying to get to work or school.

    I'm with you, on this one. Risk your neck? What the heck. Risk mine? Get lost!

    Besides, if you just want to cross the country quickly with a stock gasoline engine, there are seriously faster, safer, and more fun ways to do it!!! [mooney.com]

    What fun is a speed limit?
  • Re:Team Polizei (Score:1, Insightful)

    by unixcrab (1080985) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:57AM (#21006847)
    This guy is an idiot and should have his license revoked. Anybody who thinks the public roads are his personal race track should be shot in the knee caps so that he may never drive again. what a prick.
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by belmolis (702863) <billposerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:57AM (#21006849) Homepage

    It occurs to me that these two probably committed a federal crime. They're clearly guilty of felony reckless driving according to the laws of many states. Crossing state lines for the purpose of committing a felony, which is exactly what they did, is a federal crime.

  • Re:What a bastard. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by justinlee37 (993373) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:13AM (#21006945)

    To call him a geek is an insult to me and all other geeks i know of ... To endanger other people's lives like this is utterly despicable.

    Don't apply your arbitrary moral standards to the rest of us. Being a "geek" has nothing to do with submitting to a particular moral philosophy.

  • Hope he's arrested (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sarahbau (692647) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:13AM (#21006947)
    I really hope this jerk is arrested for reckless endangerment to others. If he wants to play with own life, fine, but risking the lives of others for your own fun is not cool.
  • Re:What an ass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SageMusings (463344) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:26AM (#21007019) Journal
    If he really wants to break the record he should do it on a motorcycle.

    3000 miles on a motorcycle would add a whole new dimension to the word "torture". I'm not sure there is a person alive that could sustain those speeds that long. Riding a bike is much more fatiguing and requires loads more concentration.
  • by Jerry Smith (806480) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:29AM (#21007047) Homepage Journal
    How about: "Geek sets record by breaking the law and endangering innocent men, women, and children in selfish quest to do something pointless" Seriously, this doesn't push any boundaries of technology or vehicle science. It tests two things: being able to stay awake, and being able to break laws and get away with it. Here they are tearing across the country in a car filled with distracting devices, sleep deprivation, fatigue, driving at unsafe speeds near vehicles filled with normal people trying to get to work or school.

    Firstly may I thank you for the correct use of the word "geek", instead of the inapproprate "nerd". Secondly may I add that this whole "quest" is about plain abuse of technology and as immature as reckless and selfish. May his gadgets explode in his face and earn him the Darwin-award he deserves, as soon as possible.

  • nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:36AM (#21007091)
    That's nice. Now, can we take away his driver's license and impound his car, please?
  • No Arrest (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nife00 (952213) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:36AM (#21007095)
    People need to read the whole article a little more carefully. This is only being publicized a year after it happened(2006), so I would venture a guess that all statutes of limitations have run out. 1 year on traffic violations seems about right. They were smart about it.
  • Re:Irresponsible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by radja (58949) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:39AM (#21007113) Homepage
    what a waste. give that F40 a new paint-job, and you have a pretty fast police pursuit vehicle to catch the next lamborghini. thank you, have a nice day.
  • Re:Irresponsible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syylk (538519) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @04:04AM (#21007239) Homepage
    Speed limits are there for a reason, so stick to them! Traffic tickets should be depending on income/wealth instead of being fixed like they are now.

    Karma to burn, so I bite the bullet.

    You suggest that speed limits are there for a reason, then provide the reason: quick cash for the municipalities.

    Some limits are ridiculous low in some cases: I have a 30 km/h sign right in front of my window - and my condo is in front of a freeway! Often they are just a trick to further tax car owners, without resorting to the politically unpopular word "tax".

    Here (Italy) there's a huge scandal about similar behavior by the police enforcers, and one that is quickly making some heads roll.

    At some specific, usually not dangerous crossroads, the traffic lights have been reprogrammed to have a very short "yellow" time - around two seconds. It has been documented in a broadcast inquire on TV, with actual videos and SMPTE'd times. With two seconds from green to red, it's materially impossible to slow down and stop at the crossroad, even sticking to the very low speed limit.

    So you WILL cross the crossroad with a red. And of course, that crossroad has this new CCTV system to recognize plates and automatically issue tickets in case of crossing with red. There was an outburst of enraged citizens against this practice: in a two weeks period, they received in excess of 13'000 tickets, all at the same crossroad. In a town with around 50'000 people, not a major city either...

    Speed limits and absurd, often intentional, road laws are demonstrably used to sanate local administrations' budgets and balances. Disguised as "think of the children" policies, they are just another way to transfer resources from citizens to public administrators.
  • Re:What a bastard. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zig007 (1097227) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @04:10AM (#21007269)

    There you go again.
    Yeah, I did, didn't I ? :-)

    Someone can be a geek and can be a psychopath.
    Yeah, sure.

    But the headline was: "Geek and Gadgets Set Cross-US Speed Record", not "Idiot and Gadgets Set Cross-US Speed Record".

    That's what pissed me off.
  • by DeathElk (883654) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @04:35AM (#21007403)
    You'll grow a sense of humour right out your ass when this fuckwit kills someone you love. It doesn't matter how "safe" or experienced a driver is, it's the other road users that are the unknown. I don't accept any risk that some DICKHEAD doing 200KPH will hit me. The law states that no-one should drive that fast on public roads as a matter of COMMON SENSE.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @04:36AM (#21007409)
    While traffic violations do cover a number of items, you can apply non-traffic-specific laws as well. How about "reckless endangerment" or any variety of other laws that might still be within the limitations?

    I'm not a huge fan of the "think about the children" type arguements, but would we be cheering this guy on if he'd hit a pedestrian, wrecked some property, or something else that may have occured had he not been lucky?

    This guy's not a geek, he's just rich enough to afford some expensive toys, a fast car, and not enough common sense or respect for others.
  • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @04:40AM (#21007429) Homepage
    "Agreed, but he's also got a point. BMWs (at least the M5) are not built for this kind of stuff. Perhaps a Porsche 911 would've been more appropriate." "

    Apparantly you own and/or maintain neither.

    Despite all this rhetoric, he did it.

    As somebody who has a stable of oldish German cars, one of them being a BMW (633Csi) and one of them having 700,000 kms on the clock that can still top 120mph (300SD) I'd argue vehemently that they are built for all day high speed runs. Not Italian cars and certainly not British cars. The Autobahn is partly the reason for this. German enginerring is another. They are meant for this sort of flogging, it's desinged in.

    Given the attention to detail in the rest of the trip, my uninformed guess is the car was in as perfect a mechnaical condition as possible, quite possibly better than "factory new".

    And as I said, the proof was in the pudding. He made it.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous@yaho ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @04:47AM (#21007479) Homepage Journal
    If he's smart... well not smart, but sensible... he's going to lay low for a little while and coast off the kudos and adrenaline this generated. Yet, if he were sensible, he wouldn't have done this, would he?

    Thing about this is... Yes, it's reckless. Yes, it's stupid. Yes, it's endangering the lives of innocents. But the article remains a damn good read. What's done is done and it made a heck of a story.

    - G
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @05:01AM (#21007537) Journal
    That's terrible.

    How does it benefit anyone to crush a car? You just end up with a pile of mostly unrecyclable car parts, a waste of resources and possibly the destruction of an item of historical interest. Sounds like jealousy of the rich. You'd get a lot more benefit to society if the cars were auctioned.
  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @05:06AM (#21007563)
    How does it benefit anyone to crush a car?



    Let's see: It's very spectacular, quite a bit of a deterrent, and it makes it clear that it is an actual punishment and not just an attempt at adding more money to the citys coffers.



    Sounds like jealousy of the rich.



    Well, in theory, the law should be the same for everyone ? So if you speed in your <$1000 rustbucket, it'll get crushed too.



    You'd get a lot more benefit to society if the cars were auctioned.



    Yeah, and you'd have all the sports car drivers whining how speed limits are only put there to transfer their money to the local government.


    No, let's just crush the thing and avoid that discussion altogether.

  • Re:Irresponsible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @05:22AM (#21007641)
    There are those and there are those. Yes, those "speed limits" you describe exist, and they get more and more by the day. Most of the time you have some suspiciously well hidden or badly lit little sign , most of the time on top of a hill, just before it starts the dip, that tells you that instead of 70, you only may drive 30 here and, well, guess where your friendly and helpful law enforcement guys are sitting? Actually, these things make traffic less safe, not more, because, well, have you ever tried hitting the breaks on the top of a hill?

    Neither do I understand an arbitrary speed limit of 55 mph which exists pretty much across the whole USA. Yes, it might have made sense in the 50s when cars could often go not much more than 55, and more often than not 55 was already a rather unsafe speed in said cars. We're now half a century further down the road and cars got heaps safer. At much higher speeds. Even my old and quite quirky Mazda 626 could easily handle the 130 (kph, around 80mph) speed limit without falling apart.

    Still, there are speed limits that make sense. I wouldn't want to be a road worker trying to repair damages when right behind me cars zip by at 100 kph. Observing a speed limit of 70 would have saved me a car, right behind that limit was a rater narrow corner.

    But one thing is true (and that last example illustrates it perfectly), when speed limits are imposed arbitrarily, as they are today more often than not, people start ignoring them. It's like with any laws, when you learn that a law makes no sense in 90% of the time, you start ignoring it in 100% of the time.

    The roads would be much safer if speed limits existed only where they make sense. People would observe them because they would understand their need to exist.
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcello_dl (667940) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @05:27AM (#21007673) Homepage Journal
    Yet I guess that, should he cause an accident, possibly killing people who have the bad luck of getting on the streets to commute and owning less safe cars than his precious M5, he'll run away like whatever 18 year old drunk coward.

    Shame on slashdot for posting this shit.

  • Re:What a bastard. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Atario (673917) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @05:30AM (#21007685) Homepage

    he has the obvious intent to go out try to kill people
    Well then I guess he failed spectacularly, since he encountered thousands of other vehicles and didn't even get into any fender-benders.

    Calm down and get some perspective for a minute there, Captain Moral Outrage.
  • by Tenareth (17013) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @05:34AM (#21007707) Homepage
    What about when some soccer mom in an SUV kills someone you love?

    That's who kills more people than people like this... he's generally safer because he's actually aware he's fighting the odds, the daily commuters and soccer moms are the real danger because they have completely forgotten they are driving a killing machine.

    What happened that we are so afraid to test our boundaries? Guess what, no matter how safe you try to be, people will die.

    And yes, I've lost very close loved ones to traffic accidents. Raging against everyone that drives a little fast is not how you remember them. Life is dangerous.
  • by CmdrGravy (645153) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @06:49AM (#21008053) Homepage
    I don't think this guy does know what he's doing. He's had no professional training as a driver, girlfriends and co-drivers have left him because they felt he was endangering their lives and he's driving a fast car very dangerously on public roads.

    The article is full of incidents that are just outright dangerous stupidity, using the hard shoulder as an overtaking lane, undertaking 18 wheelers and so and so on. The bloke comes across as being a complete wanker, he's inherited a load of money from his folks so he never has to work and decides to be a great novelist. That doesn't work so he decides to become an irresponsible maniac driver without even having any sort of proper instruction and simply uses his inherited wealth to pay off any fines he gets along the way. He's not some kind of hero he's an overpriviledged muppet and if he carries on like this he will one day kill someone.
  • by Pseudonym (62607) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @07:05AM (#21008135)

    That's who kills more people than people like this...

    ...and smoking kills more people annually than people pointing a gun at their own temples and pulling the trigger. Your point is?

  • by ddrichardson (869910) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @07:16AM (#21008193) Homepage

    What makes you think he was lucky? The fact that he used these tools suggest that he is quite capable of taking precautions.

    I would suggest that these devices were for the most part utilised to avoid arrest rather than protect innocent passers by.

  • Hoorah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Conspire (102879) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @07:17AM (#21008201) Homepage
    First off, for all the negative posts that name-call this gentleman for being "unsafe" and "reckless", I hope you do some homework and inform yourself about the German Autobahns. For those of us who have driven on the autobahns faster than this man did at anytime in his journey, we know that safety is how you are paying attention and driving, not that you are following the laws of the US roads. The man planned with extreme detail, drove a car that was designed to drive this speed for much longer durations, and obviously from the videos it is clear they were "paying attention". Just because the name callers on these posts are not capable of driving the speeds and distances safely does not mean that that team could not do it. And they proved it.

    So please stop whining about the "danger" to society. There are many countries with faster speed limits (or little or no enforcement which equals the same thing). And by the way, in this country if he were to have had an accident, he would have been sued into bankruptcy. But fact of the matter is who cares he did it safely!

  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @07:17AM (#21008207)
    Insert any other number you wish in there. I don't see your point.

    That's because you're bad at physics and biology. Here's a few hints:

    1. Braking distance is a function of velocity squared. Same goes for kinetic energy.
    2. Human reaction time is about one second, give or take a few hundred milliseconds. There's no way to get it significantly lower than that.

  • by DeathElk (883654) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @07:29AM (#21008269)
    Statistically there are a lot more soccer mums on the road. Should they be driving 2 ton hulks? I personally don't think so. I diverge.

    This guy might be aware that he's doing something dangerous, and he might try to prepare for any outcome. He even accepts that there are unknown elements and resigned once the goal became unrealistic. Okay. Good. But these factors do not make it any safer or less selfish - you said it yourself - what about the soccer mum? The roads and freeways are totally unpredictable. Soccer mum has as much right to use the freeways as does any licensed driver. This guy's experience and preparation DOES NOT GIVE HIM THE RIGHT to put innocent lives at risk.

    Life can be dangerous. As a surfer, former bicycle courier, skater and road racing cyclist, believe me, I know (check my id). But I would never purposefully risk anyone else's life. I believe this guy's antics are selfish and stupid.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @07:57AM (#21008437)

    Oh, come on, for God's sake, grow a sense of humour.

    I did, but some asshole ran over it with a car.

    This is an astounding driving achievement.

    No. What this is is some asshole endangering everyone using public roads and then being proud of it.

    And as the article points out, this guy has become known as a fast but SAFE driver. I would have no doubt that he poses far less of a risk to other drivers than all those 'normal people', as you put it.

    Of course. He's a SAFE driver, rather than an ordinary guy. How foolish of us not to realize that.

    There is a difference between driving fast and driving dangerously.

    Since the amount of mayhem caused in the case of an accident, the braking distance, and the reaction distance all go up as the speed of the car goes up, and the former two squared at that, I'd say that you are very wrong. Driving faster is more dangerous than driving slower, both to yourself and to everyone else on the road.

    And besides, as a road user, doesn't it just go with the territory that you accept the risk that another driver may hit you?

    No, anymore than it goes with the territory of owning a house that someone might decide to bar the doors and set it on fire because they happen to like watching the flames while you're sleeping on your bed.

    I know I do. I know there are a few drivers out there who will sometimes drive well above safe speeds (which are not necessarily the same as the speed limits), and if one of them takes me out, well, it's just all part of the game of driving.

    Driving isn't a game. Driving is using a public utility - roads - to get from point A to point B. Drivers who can't get it through their heads that endangering others isn't okay should had their licenses and cars taken away.

    Which, I hope, will happen to these particular morons now that they've made their little trip public.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:08AM (#21008527)

    That's who kills more people than people like this... he's generally safer because he's actually aware he's fighting the odds, the daily commuters and soccer moms are the real danger because they have completely forgotten they are driving a killing machine.

    There are million times more daily commuters and soccer moms than assholes like this guy, and they drive their commutes daily. That's why they have more accidents, not because they're more dangerous.

    What happened that we are so afraid to test our boundaries? Guess what, no matter how safe you try to be, people will die.

    Don't test your boundaries where failing will get other people hurt. Test them where the only possible victim will be you. And if you do insist on risking other people's lives, don't be surprised when they defend themselves by locking you up.

    And yes, I've lost very close loved ones to traffic accidents. Raging against everyone that drives a little fast is not how you remember them.

    Why not ? It seems to me that if sociopathic behavior gets someone killed, the best possible way to remember them is to get the guilty punished as cruelly as possible and then crushing said sociopathic behavior.

    Life is dangerous.

    Life would be a lot less dangerous if cretins like this didn't insist on doing stupid shit in public.

  • Re:Team Polizei (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3vi1 (710592) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:10AM (#21008555)
    Not necessarily. Some american drivers suck, and because of that american motorway speeds are incredibly low. Almost everywhere in Europe the maximum speed is around 80 mph, and everywhere you can safely drive at OVER 90mph, while in the US it's at 65 or 75mph. The problem with the american drivers is that they hardly ever use the mirrors. I've seen drivers going directly from the carpool lane to the exit quite a few times without ever bothering to check the damned mirrors. From my point of view, automatic gear-boxes combined with driving only on motorways, leads to bad drivers. I've also seen drivers with their feet on the dashboard. I can't possibly imagine how on earth is the driver supposed to brake and avoid a possible accident with his feet up.
    They give an 18 year old a gun, they allow him to drive (which is potentially dangerous) at 16, but he can't have a beer until he's 21. Figure that out.
    It seems pretty normal to me to learn about the effects of alcohol _BEFORE_ you can get a weapon or drive a car.
    Getting back to the subject at hand. I think that the US should make the drivers license exam (the practical part) a lot harder. Driving on a mountain-side road with a lot of hairpin-turns in a manual gearbox car (possibly on snow or other bad conditions), teaches one about driving more than 1000 hours on a motorway. I also think that the guy has a very serious point by doing that.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:29AM (#21008747)

    I would suggest that these devices were for the most part utilised to avoid arrest rather than protect innocent passers by.
    Yet it shows foresight and a predilection for taking precautions.
     
  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:36AM (#21008823) Homepage Journal
    Even reasonable people can do stupid things under the influence of temptation.

    A friend of mine once took me up to 120mph on a relatively deserted highway. It was one of those things where somebody says "watch this" and proceeds to do something which is extremely stupid and embarrassing. I was not impressed. If he were given to this kind of inconsiderate behavior, he would be no friend of mine. But he'd saved up until he could buy this car that cost over a year's salary; I suppose he was itching to show somebody. He just should have shown it to somebody who would be impressed in a situation where it would be appreciated.

    I suppose anybody who buys a superfast car can't resist driving it at the speeds it was built to achieve, so they should find a closed track where they can get it out of their system. It's more satisfying anyway because you can really go up to the limit of your ability or your car's ability, not the point where you can't overcome the increasing sense that what you are doing is dangerous and irresponsible. Anybody who sells a car designed to be driven over 100mph should as a matter of course point their customers to the nearest track. It'd probably be good for business. At least it would keep their customers alive and out of jail.

    My friend started going to the track, and that was the end of his playing stupid games on the road. When you've gone as fast as you can go for as long as you want, it isn't exciting to sneak bursts of limited speeds on open roads. Going to the track probably made him a an extremely safe driver, because he was driving a high performance car at moderate speeds with enhanced skill and trained reflexes.
  • Re:wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:41AM (#21008879)
    You've missed the point. Alex Roy was giving up the freedom of others to not be smeared down a freeway for his own freedom. Alex Roy was the guy giving up freedoms, only they weren't his to give up. Just as murderers don't have the right to kill people (even if it's their dream), people don't have the right to endanger others for their own indulgences. The PATRIOT act and talk of a "police state" has nothing to do with this. Nothing at all. People are upset about the PATRIOT act and the "police state" punishing those who are not hurting anyone else. Alex Roy endangered everyone he was near during his stunt.
  • Re:Team Polizei (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DudeTheMath (522264) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:52AM (#21008955) Homepage

    Harder raod tests? Sure. Mountain hairpin turns? In snow? There aren't enough taxes in the state of Florida to bus everyone who wants a license to West Virginia or something.

    Where I live, roads are mostly straight, mostly flat, and occasionally under water; that's what they need to test. My mom used to say she'd much rather drive in snow than rain, since the idiots thought they could drive in rain.

    But regardless of driver training, nothing can prepare you for some idiot coming up behind you at twice your speed. I'm good about using my mirrors (unlike most Americans, I have almost no overlap between my rear-view and side-view mirrors, so I have almost no blind spot). If I want to change lanes, I signal, check the mirror, and go. What looks like a two-second following distance disappears in, you guessed it, two seconds if the idiot is travelling at twice my speed.

    Don't undersestimate the startle factor, either, as somebody blows by you at 70mph, relatively. How many accidents (and near accidents) did this guy leave in his wake, with people he never touched?

    You might say it's the American sheep culture, that on European roads you have to expect people to pass you at high rates of speed. But that's because it's legal in (parts of) Europe. Here, we expect "bad boys" to whip by at maybe twenty over the limit. This guy's a moron if he thinks he can't hurt anyone he doesn't hit.

  • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:02AM (#21009063) Homepage Journal
    I agree you have to be careful about imposing your particular philosophy on other people, but I don't think it's true that being a geek as nothing to do with any moral philosophy.

    Being a geek (in the sense of the word we use it here) is more about values than anything else:
    • A geek values the pursuit of knowledge.
    • A geek values the acquisition of knowledge through direct experience.
    • A geek values the use of creativity to overcome challenges. Constraints? Bring 'em on.


    I should point out this point includes ethical constraints: it's a greater accomplishment to do something better than anybody else, whilst doing it ethically. In fact, making intelligent decisions about which constraints matter and which ones don't is central to being a geek. When I was a young, rule-breaking hacker at MIT, we had a rule -- or rather a sense of style -- that demanded we do dangerous things safely and illegal things responsibly. If we were some place we didn't belong, we didn't interfere with the legitimate users' activities. Leave the place better than you found it, or at least no worse.

    These values are not a moral philosophy in themselves, but they can inform whatever moral philosophy you subscribe to. Insofar as it is easy (observe the note of contempt here) to reconcile being a geek with being an ethical egoist, the particular stunt being done can be called a geek stunt. But it is not a hack.

    Eluding the authorities whilst doing a hack can add to its stature, but only if what you are doing is strictly reasonable. Otherwise there is a good chance that you're not a hacker, you're just a scofflaw. Scofflaws use technology to avoid the authorities too. It's not much of an accomplishment.

    Now, setting the record for crossing the country with the requirement that you don't exceed the speed limit even once -- that would not only be a hack, it would be an epic one. Naturally, you'd have to develop a technological method for documenting your feat, one that would convince a skeptical rival. That would be a hack too.
  • Re:Hoorah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by janestarz (822635) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:03AM (#21009079)
    Except for the fact that on the German Autobahn, people expect this. There are many stretches of road that you are allowed to drive as fast as you can go, if traffic allows. All the German people driving cars know that there might be cars on those stretches that are doing 200kph. It's not just the fact that you are paying attention as a driver, but that the other cars around you are paying attention as well. I've done the German Autobahn as a passenger at 160-180 kph (my father was driving and I hated every second of it) and as a driver (135 kph is fast enough for me) and your mirrors become your best friend. You keep an eye on traffic in front and behind you, anticipate speeds and you'll do fine.

    There are also stretches of road in Germany that you're not allowed to go too fast, sometimes with speed limits of 80 kph because the difference in speed between the trucks (LKW's) and regular cars would become too great. And most people abide just fine by it, because they know it can get really dangerous. Sure, the BMW's and Mercedeses and Porsches will accelarate very fast once the speed limits are raised again, but they keep their speed mania in check when danger is close.

    I live in the Netherlands and when I crossed back over the border after a trip to Germany, within 5 kilometers of the border you can tell the difference in driving style. I'd drive in Germany any day, despite the speed limits or the lack thereof. Just because Germans can anticipate and think about what they are doing and what impact they might have on other peoples lives.
    Roy does not.

  • by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:23AM (#21009289) Homepage Journal

    Hear, hear! I hope they jail the SOB. These people aren't rebels or pioneers, they're dangerous sociopaths. They shouldn't be on the roads.

    Since when does driving real fast qualify as sociopathy? And judging from the incredibly lengths he went to to defy authority while doing what he enjoys, yes, I'd say that at least in this domain he's very much a rebel.
  • by radish (98371) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:03AM (#21009777) Homepage
    I am curious, as any time that I have done 120 plus MPH, my reaction time was affected by adrenaline
    Or was it your perception of your reaction times that was affected? "Look at me, I'm going so fast, I'm so cool". Please.

    On the highway, you are in one mode: Avoid everything.
    Actually, this guy was probably in many modes. Look at GPS, look at radar detector, drink more coffee, try to stay awake. Oh, and maybe glance ahead every so often.

    Assuming dry pavement
    So it never rained on this whole trip? There were guaranteed to be no oil patches on the highway? No loose gravel? No glass that could cause a blowout? The highway is not a racetrack and is not maintained to the safety level of a racetrack.

    That M5 likely would stop from 100 MPH in in under 200 feet
    Awesome. So now he just has to make sure to stay 200ft behind any other vehicle at all times. Think he actually did that? Nah, me neither.

    Speed doesn't kill. Bad decisions do.
    People make bad decisions every day. Everyone does. When it comes to driving, speed invariably makes the results of those bad decisions much worse. He wants to throw his ass around a racetrack at high speed he's got my blessing, but stay the hell off the roads my kids are on.
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:08AM (#21009831)
    "The couple the racers hit ran a stop sign and were hit by a porsche going 6 miles over the limit"

    What, no "He knew what he was doing, he was a far superior driver than mere mortals, safe and slow aren't always the same" arguments for the victims? I could make any number of hand-waving arguments in defense of the victim's reckless driving (e. g. local knowledge of how busy the intersection usually is), so why isn't the same courtesy afforded him that you afford the race participants?

    What sickened me the most in the link provided were the comments, which all amounted to "Oh noes, this might affect the race!" Forget that people died, the race must go on, apparently.
  • Re:Team Polizei (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:18AM (#21009965)
    Speed limits were created for ticket revenue generation.
  • Re:4 hours (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jlgolson (19847) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:26AM (#21010089) Homepage Journal
    Ah, that must be why it's stood for 22 years. Let's see you do it.

    90 mph average from NY to LA? Good luck.
  • by RESPAWN (153636) <caldwell&tulanealumni,net> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:30AM (#21010141) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the picture in the article was from this year's Gumball 3000 -- an event where they are contractually obliged to deck their cars out in the event's sponsors' logos. It was also an event that took place after Alex's speed record attempt. Jalopnik has some pictures [jalopnik.com] of the car as it was decked out for the transcontinental run. Aside from the abundance of antennas and a few small stickers on the trunk, the car looked like a relatively normal E39 BMW sedan.

    One thing the Wired article also neglected to mention and that was mentioned in one of the Jalopnik articles (that I'm too lazy to look up a link for) was that they actually crafted a cover story in classic Cannonball tradition. Their cover for their fast driving and for all of the gadgets on their car was that they were storm chasers chasing a fast moving front across the country. I find it kind of funny since, to my knowledge, most storm fronts in the US move from West to East, not East to West as they were driving.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infamou s . net> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:30AM (#21010147) Homepage

    Since when does driving real fast qualify as sociopathy?

    When it's putting other people at risk of death or serious injury so that you can enjoy youself. We're not talking about merely violating speed limits on an empty highway, which I've certainly been known to do myself; we're talking about weaving in and out of traffic inches from other cars, driving recklessly, hitting triple digits in downtown areas. These guys are a threat to the safety of other people, and should be locked up.

    The Wikipedia article on Antisocial personality disorder [wikipedia.org] quotes the DSM diagnositic critera. Their actions definitely meet two of the them:

    • failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
    • reckless disregard for safety of self or others

    Two others may be met:

    • deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
    • lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

    For a diagnosis of APD, though, there needs to be "evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years", and of course we don't know their childhood. (But the ICD criterea are a little looser, with conduct disorder at a young age being suportive of a diagnosis but not necessary.) But regardless of whether a clinical diagnosis is appropriate, it's certainly accurate to refer to the behavior as "sociopathic".

    It's no different than if I were to take my rifle and start shooting out of a window into a crowded street - even if I were aiming at inanimate targets, even if I were an expert marksman, putting others at risk so I can get my jollies is not tolerable behavior. You take your rifle to the range to shoot, you take your car to the track to drive fast.

  • Re:Irresponsible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bkr1_2k (237627) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:38AM (#21010273)
    Doing 90mph on a 70mph road is probably fairly safe if there is no other traffic, the road is dry and visibility good, but that's a rare state.

    Have you ever driven across country in the USA? Seriously, this is anything but "a rare state".

    Most of this country, despite what many believe, is wide open space with low population and even less traffic. It's not difficult to do 120 mph for several hours without ever seeing another car. (I've done it though closer to 105 mph--I've only gone 120 once and it scared the crap out of me.) Populous areas are actually quite spread out until you get to the coastal states. If you avoid those and shoot straight across the middle of the country, it's very easy to "hit the open road" and avoid most traffic issues.

    I'm not saying what this guy did is smart, but it's far from automatically being as reckless as most of the comments suggest. Yes, generally speaking it was a stupid thing to do for a "record" that really isn't all that hard (it certainly didn't require all the ridiculous gadgets he added to his car) to attain. Stupid is a relative term though, and can be easily moderated to be far less stupid or even more stupid. I'd dare say he did make some effort to minimize the stupidity of his actions, if for no other reason than making the task easier by avoiding traffic, though I don't know that for sure.

  • Question the law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nicolay77 (258497) <nicolay...g@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:50AM (#21010465) Homepage
    The speeding laws are outdated and only serve to let the police reach their weekly quotas. It is the police who keep them outdated.

    In more logical countries it is not illegal to drive fast, but it is illegal to tail-chase other cars. This has shown to reduce accidents much more than speed-limiting laws, as tail-chasing is a very dangerous behavior, but simply speeding is not.

    The next time when you drive slow enough but are tail-chasing the car in front of you ask yourself if you're not a reckless driver, just because the law says so.
  • by Spellvexit (1039042) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:56AM (#21010553)
    Well, I've got no objection to those stupid wreckless drivers; it's the reckless ones I can't stand!
  • by jvkjvk (102057) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @11:02AM (#21010655)
    I agree with the gist of what you are saying, but I take issue with the underlying assumption that is stated here:

    Life can be dangerous. As a surfer, former bicycle courier, skater and road racing cyclist, believe me, I know (check my id). But I would never purposefully risk anyone else's life.
    If you drive a car, you are purposefully risking other people's lives. You purposefully decided to drive. There is a non-zero probability that if you drive you will kill someone. This is the very definition of risking other people's lives.

    Sure, the risk is probably rather lower than someone driving like a bat out of hell across the country but I don't think anyone who drives should be as sanctimonious as to say i would never purposefully risk anyone else's life because it's just not true - you do every time you drive.
  • by geoskd (321194) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @11:06AM (#21010727)

    I'm not a huge fan of the "think about the children" type arguements, but would we be cheering this guy on if he'd hit a pedestrian, wrecked some property, or something else that may have occured had he not been lucky?

    Except that he was driving on the highways pretty much the whole way, so you don't see many pedestrians (its a highway for good reason). The US highway system was designed with high speed trafic in mind, and most parts of it are relatively safe to drive at 100+ MPH. The only reason we don't usually is because of the law. As for the danger of hitting other vehicles, You'll notice the next time you are out on an actual highway that there is almost always high line of sight, meaning that you can see a very long way ahead without any obstructions, so you can see trouble coming way ahead of time. Furthermore, these guys were equiped with all kinds of tools to help them identify trouble beyond the line of sight, and under adverse conditions. They were not recklessly plowing down the road blind dumb and happy, they were prepared for all kinds of eventualities. In fact the only real significant threat to life or property would have been the deer they referenced in the article, and the infrared goggles should have given them plenty of opportunity to avoid that spot of trouble too.

    -=Geoskd
  • by Corwn of Amber (802933) <{corwinofamber} {at} {skynet.be}> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @11:39AM (#21011261) Journal
    Go, friend! Please don't kill anyone while driving, it would make you look bad, and you'd lose precious time.

    Frankly, that old "speed kills" line has to disappear into oblivion, fast. Here in Belgium everybody drives like a maniac, nobody cares, and we don't have more accidents per capita than in the US.

    Slowing down cars helps no one, it only creates bottlenecks, frustration, and a slowed country with a slow economy. Responsible people know how fast they can drive in what area so as not to damage anything or injure anyone, simply take into account every possibility at every crossroads and you'll never crash.

    Learn how to drive safe, you'll drive faster.
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @12:13PM (#21011867) Homepage
    The best way to break the record is to forget the gadgets and have a team of drivers who drove half a mile in front of me to spot/distract the cops.

    It's not as cool... but it'd be fastest.

    The USA is far too anal about "speed". Speed isn't the problem it's moron drivers, and highway driving in SUVs with auto-everything is the best way to produce them.

    In Spain we drive through the center of town at what Americans would think of as "highway" speeds and nothing happens because we're used to it.

    PS: Check this video of Team Polizei's encounter with the Italian police - the Italians have a healthy attitude towards driving.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbbtK90LZ9E [youtube.com]

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @12:30PM (#21012137) Journal
    What about other drivers, not realizing someone would be breaking the law that egregiously, and making a quick lane change thinking they've got plenty of time? The highways would be safe for 100+ MPH travel if they were either empty, full of drivers also going 100+ MPH, or at the very least full of drivers expecting others to be doing 100+ MPH. None of those things are true.

    Sometimes it is okay to break the law. Sometimes it is even necessary. This is neither. This is just an asshole who thinks the rules don't apply to him. He is not cool, he is not a daring rebel sticking it to the man. He's a sociopath who should be thrown in jail.
  • by gsslay (807818) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @12:45PM (#21012353)

    his guy has become known as a fast but SAFE driver.
    No. If he was a SAFE driver then the roads would be SAFER if everyone followed his example. Do you think the roads would be safer if we all drove like that?

    What he is is a SELFISH driver because he is relying on everyone else following the rules, so that he can ignore them. His safety is entirely reliant on being able to predict everyone around him following the rules of the road, a courtesy he's not prepared return.

    All we can hope for is that one day he'll meet as "fast but SAFE" a driver as himself on an otherwise empty road. Then he'll see what happens when the guy he's overtaking in the wrong lane has as little regard for the regulations as he has.
  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:28PM (#21014017)

    The USA has very low expectations of what a car can do. I blame the crappy suspension they put in their cars, that and all those top-heavy SUVs which roll over and kill everybody inside if you clip a curb or try and use the steering wheel.

    A modern BMW M5 can do over 200Mph, and do it in reasonable safety. 125 mph in an M5 is completely safe (other idiot drivers notwithstanding). 90 mph in an M5 is so far within the limits that it's boring.


    Ahh, another day, another idiot who presumes that "doing 200Mph safely" has anything to do with your car.

    First off, the M5 is electronically limited to 250kph, like most European vehicles that can go that fast.

    Second, stopping distance is proportional to the square of speed. Your reaction time is not.

    People who claim that driving at 125MPH is safe don't understand the problem. The problem is not whether or not you can control the car. The problem is what you do when something unexpected happens.

    I blame the crappy suspension they put in their cars, that and all those top-heavy SUVs which roll over and kill everybody inside if you clip a curb or try and use the steering wheel.


    Considering that a pretty good fraction of our cars are manufactured in Korea, Japan, or Europe, I'm not sure what you mean by the "crappy suspension" that "we" put in "our cars". Wake up. Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover are owned by Ford. Until recently, Daimler owned Chrysler.

    90 mph in an M5 is so far within the limits that it's boring.


    This expresses everything that's wrong with your attitude. You are driving on a public highway, putting everyone else at risk by the very nature of you being there. Good drivers cause crashes. Bad drivers cause crashes. You are not so skilled that you could not screw up. Even F1 drivers screw up.

    This is the LAST place where you want to be testing the limits of your vehicle. And if you do screw up, it will be far, far worse if you are going 125MPH.

    Note that this driver AVERAGED 90 MPH. Considering that he had to stop for gas and other necessities, he must have been going faster than 90 MPH for a fair portion of the trip.

    I am so sick and fucking tired of these arguments. Somehow, it's always the OTHER drivers who are the problem. Somehow, YOU are "skilled" enough to drive excessively fast (note that over the limit doesn't necessarily mean excessive). Perhaps YOU have never made a mistake and caused an accident. That's not the point. Perhaps someone else will make the mistake. Perhaps you will slip up. IT HAPPENS FAR MORE OFTEN THAN YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADMIT.

    We design and operate airplanes with significant safety margins, so that people don't die when mistakes or failures happen. The same logic should apply to motor vehicles.
  • Re:What a bastard. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stradivarius (7490) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:46PM (#21015063)

    I don't think so. To me, it's an invitation to consider whether he was just lucky or if perhaps we shouldn't apply the same standards to him as we would the "average driver". It's like Bayes' theorem. Since we know the outcome, we have more information about what went into it. The fact that he didn't have any accidents means there is a good chance that he is a highly skilled driver.
    One event does not constitute a statistically useful sample, and knowing the outcome of one event does not tell you anything about *why* it occurred. Nonetheless, the drivers are almost certainly very skilled, based on the article. It said that the main driver established a reputation as a fast but safe driver while doing legal races, and both have participated in several such races.

    The article also noted the meticulousness of the racers in planning their course and having an airplane spotter for potential construction or other pitfalls. So these folks aren't careless, and they're driving a far more agile vehicle than most on the roads.

    So IMO the questions are:

    1: How does the undeniably increased risk from high speeds (reaction times, braking times, force in the event of a crash) compare with the decreased risks from the drivers' above-average skill, precautions, and vehicle?

    2: If the overall risk increased, by how much? Is it comparable to everyday distractions (cell phones, misbehaving kids in the backseat, etc) we generally deem acceptable, or is it worse?

    3: If worse, is it ethically acceptable for these drivers to impose that risk upon others on the roads?

    To be honest, I don't see how any of us are in a position to answer these. Questions #1 and #2 are purely factual and statistical problems which require data we don't have from the article. Question #3 requires us to know the answer to #2, unless we want to go down the dubious road of claiming risks from one activity are somehow ethically worse than risks from another activity regardless of relative magnitude.

    So basically at this point we're all just reacting emotionally to the event with no actual knowledge of the risks involved.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:50PM (#21015133)
    what would I do if involved in a fatal accident in a 3rd world nation?

    Quit whining, and take some responsibility for your actions? You made the stupid decision to race in the third world nation, with full knowledge that racing is a risky venture.

    The world isn't your fucking playground, rich boy.

    You want to race on a closed racetrack? Fine, that's between you and the racetrack.

    You want to race down my street? Fuck off. I'll hold you responsible for your actions.

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