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Geek and Gadgets Set Cross-US Speed Record 805

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:38AM (#21006743)
    I suspect it means there are 31000 highway cops in the US. Not 31,000 average along the route he took at any given time.
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:5, Informative)

    by 427_ci_505 ( 1009677 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:39AM (#21006755)
    Alex Roy is essentially the man behind Team Polizei: http://www.teampolizei.com/ [teampolizei.com] Does Gumball rallies and such. This sort of thing isn't new to him. And no matter what, his M5 kicks some serious ass.
  • Re:Irresponsible (Score:5, Informative)

    by dido ( 9125 ) <`dido' `at' `imperium.ph'> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:42AM (#21006771)

    Well some speed limit fines are based on income, at least in some parts of Europe. I remember [cnn.com] a few years back when a top Nokia executive was fined the equivalent of US$103,000 for speeding on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, because in Finland, traffic tickets are based on violator's income.

  • Re:What an ass (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bryan Ischo ( 893 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:45AM (#21006787) Homepage
    Three points:

    1. In my experience you get about twice the mileage in a bike as a car (obviously depends alot on the type of car and type of bike, but considering the guy is driving an M5, it wouldn't be hard to get twice the mileage on even a very powerful bike), but have 1/4 the tank size, so you end up with about half the range with the bike.

    2. You can add an extra tank to both vehicles, but the bike gets twice the mileage out of each additional pound of fuel added. I think in the end the bike will end up getting a bit more advantage out of the extra tank, but still the range of the bike will only end up being a bit better than half the range of the car.

    3. You can refuel a bike much faster than a car. You don't even have to get off. This buys you maybe 30 seconds per refuel. Probably still not enough to make back the difference given the extra stops you have to make, but it will help.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

    by eklitzke ( 873155 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @03:44AM (#21007147) Homepage
    He waited for the statute of limitations to expire on all of the traffic violations before having the story published, so he's no longer in risk of being prosecuted for them.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @05:31AM (#21007687) Homepage Journal
    Iron Butt riders do this during a yearly event. They have a course laid out with many extra stopping points that are worth bonus points. There really isn't anyway to complete the course doing the legal limit let alone getting sufficient rest.

    See http://www.ironbutt.com/about/default.cfm [ironbutt.com] for a big pack of loonies (yes I ride).

    They do coast to coast in 50 hours which still isn't relying on doing the speed limit or getting all that much rest. There are coast to coast times two (going there and coming back)

  • Re: Irresponsible (Score:3, Informative)

    by Manic Miner ( 81246 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @06:08AM (#21007885) Homepage
    "I have a 30 km/h sign right in front of my window - and my condo is in front of a freeway! "

    Have you considered that the sign is there directly for your benfit? Or would you rather have the traffic noise from a freeway full of cars doing 120km/h???

    The biggest problem with the speed debates is that most people only consider them from the selfish point of view of the driver (being as most people who get upset are speed obsessed drivers), speed limits take a number of factors into account a large number of which you might not know about if you are not familiar with the area.

    The classic is the stupid "the autobahn doesn't have speed limits so why do we have limits on Road X" argument. Nicely forgetting that the unlimited sections of the autobahn have been designed for high speed travel, and only roads with very specific and strict design criteria are allowed to have no limit.

    Limits exist for saftey and the consideration of everyone on and around the roads in question, in most cases they are correct, even if "I'm in a rush and these stupid limits are slowing me down" driver cannot see it.
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:1, Informative)

    by radja ( 58949 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @06:45AM (#21008029) Homepage
    a team member of this idiot caused an accident in the 2007 gumball rally, killing a 67yr old man and his wife, both from macedonia. they fled the scene in the other team polizei car, abandoning the victims, and tried to flee the country. they were arrested at the border of albania. you don't have to guess.
  • by Markspark ( 969445 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @06:47AM (#21008037)
    and then he makes another try, again without being stopped by the cops.. :D
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rs79 ( 71822 ) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @07:16AM (#21008195) Homepage
    To be fair:

    1) The couple the racers hit ran a stop sign and were hit by a porsche going 6 miles over the limit
    2) The man had a heart atack when hit and died. His wife died a few days later (not sure why)
    3) The family of the deceased pleaded with the court to let him go. And they did.

  • Re:Hoorah! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @07:24AM (#21008239)
    I hope you do some homework and inform yourself about the German Autobahns.

    I hope you know how much German Autobahns do not compare to US interstates. The list starts at "road condition" (applying Autobahn standards, much of the US interstate network would have to be closed down for maintenance completely right now.) and doesn't even end at the minimum requirements as far as the condition of the vehicle goes in order to be allowed on the road (US: "can move at a certain minimum speed under its own power", Germany: "Mandatory technical checkups that are quite thorough every two years").

  • Re:Irresponsible (Score:5, Informative)

    by spauldo ( 118058 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:03AM (#21008475)

    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.

    Actually, the 55 mph national speed limit was put in place in 1974, and for fuel efficiency reasons, not safety.

    The speed limits in the 50s (in many places) were still determined by the old 80% average method, IIRC. Let a bunch of people drive on the road with no speed limit, cut out the top 10% and bottom 10%, and average the speed of the remaining, and there's your speed limit. It makes sense, because that's the speed most people feel comfortable at.

    Nowadays, most of the states I've seen just make a state version of the old national speed limit. Here in Oklahoma it's 65 on two lane highways, 70 on some four lane highways, and 75 on turnpikes. The speed limit on some of the county roads have gone up in response, which helps matters (some small towns are only accessible via county roads), but I still feel the old 80% system made more sense.

    Bear in mind though, many cars manufactured between 1974 and 1995 were made for 55 and 65 mph speed limits. Going faster than that is exceeding the design limits of the vehicle. Sure, they'll do it, but engineers didn't have to take into account states like Montana where you could go as fast as you like and still be legal. So while those cars may have had better safety features, in theory they weren't designed for today's speed limits. There's still a lot of those cars on the road today.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:13AM (#21008575)

    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.

    Just because he has the money to afford the things geeks drool over doesn't mean he isn't one.

    RTFA. The driver, Roy, spent years collecting and tweaking equipment that made his car look more like a spaceship than a BMW, and compiling tables, charts, and maps of his own design to help him navigate the United States with the most mathetmatically-perfect performance possible (barring random errors, like sudden weather and human activity).

    His actions may not be what you--or many of us-- would do, but he is a geek.
  • by fsulawndart ( 860628 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:19AM (#21008635)
    Sorry to burst your bubble, but that run was done in an old Merc S Class by a movie director. I doubt he reached anywhere near 160mph.

    http://fifthgear.five.tv/jsp/5gmain.jsp?lnk=401&featureid=790&show=s11e3&section=Consumer [fifthgear.five.tv]
  • by COredneck ( 598733 ) * on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @08:25AM (#21008707)
    One thing that has to be considered on cross country trips is the ramifications of traffic violations in the different states and what is does to your license back at home. Today, almost all states communicate with each other on traffic violations committed by non-residents. There are only 3 states in the Union that don't consider minor offenses from other states - CO, NY, PA (no points, no record - NY will assess points for Ontario and Quebec Tickets by special agreement). A few states (MD, WI, NV) will post the violation to your record but assess no points and most states will assess points for out of state offenses. Major offenses would be a different issue such as alcohol related. The offenses that could be written up include reckless driving and I am not sure how those states that don't assess points for out of state offenses would deal with reckless driving.

    There are a few states that treat speeding very harshly such as Virginia (automatic reckless driving over 80 mph or greater than 20 over the limit), North Carolina (over 80 mph or greater than 15 over the limit earns a form of license suspension) to name a few.

    Assuming Alex has a NY driver's license, he would not to worry too much especially if he has an attorney to plead down major charges. I myself have a CO license and have a share of out of state tickets but not doing something like 120 mph but doing something like up to 25 mph over the limit. In fact my last two speeding tickets were something like 10 mph over the limit in Missouri and Indiana. I have family back in the midwest such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois so usually my tickets are received between CO and Ohio. We even got pulled over in Ohio for tinted windows.

    On the reciprocity part especially with today's computers, if you get your license suspended in a different state, more than likely, you will get suspended at home. Your name will be posted on the National Driving Registry/Problem Driver Pointer System (NDR/PDPS) if you get suspended by your home state or a differnt state. The NDR/PDPS would be a tool to prevent you from getting a license in a different state. For myself, I have points in Missouri for a ticket I got more than a year ago (May 2006). Some states in addition to reporting the ticket to your home state will also open up a point file on you as well. This can snare poeple like out of state college students. Ohio does this as well. My brother went to school in Ohio, held an Indiana license back in the early 1980's. Ohio at the time didn't report tickets to other states. He was a ticket away from being suspended in Ohio but he had a clean record in Indiana. I got a speeding ticket myself in Ohio back in 1986 right before Ohio joined the compact.

    Coming down the pipe unfortunately and the Real ID Act [wikipedia.org] has something to do with this is the requirement that states communicate with each other - share databases. Don't know how extensive this will be yet since it is still being worked out. Another item is the Driver License Compact (DLC) [wikipedia.org] and Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC) [wikipedia.org] will be replaced by the Driver License Agreement (DLA) [wikipedia.org] which is more harsher. The DLA will require states to share their whole databases not only with other US juridictions but also must share with Canadian and Mexican jurisdictions as well. In addition, there are no loopholes for blowing off parking violations unlike today with the NRVC. The sharing with foreign countries combined with identity theft was why the DLA was the most controversial element of the Real ID Act. The mandate for states to sign the DLA was removed from the final bill that was signed into law. Connecticut has signed the DLA and they will pull your license for blowing off an out of state parking ticket. In addition, some states don't like tinted windows
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:3, Informative)

    by radish ( 98371 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @09:46AM (#21009583) Homepage
    This story [jalopnik.com] names the drivers who caused the accident as Morley and McConville, who are named as Team Polizei drivers in this story [jalopnik.com].
  • by hottoh ( 540941 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @10:39AM (#21010277)
    Until I see the video I will give them the benefit of the doubt about being safe. Many people think driving fast equates to being irresponsible. It is not that simple. Sure the risk is higher the faster you go, but how many of you have driven well over 100 mph for 100s of miles.

    Theoretically they could have completed this in a mini van. The obstacle was not traffic it was being caught. The rules they broke are arbitrarily set, and the parent poster is short chill-pills. IMHO, does not warrant a felony.

    Many years ago in most western states the speed limit was 'reasonable and prudent.' The capabilities of the automobiles in the 50's to early 60's were just awful. 4 wheel drum brakes, bias-ply tires, and poor suspension.

    Point is when the limits were highest the cars ability to brake, turn and stop were the WORST. Driving faster than the current speed limits is not harmful.

    Montana defined 'Reasonable and Prudent' - now history
    http://www.us-highways.com/montana/reasonable.htm [us-highways.com]
  • Re:How stupid... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @01:06PM (#21012703)
    1) The deceased didn't run a stop sign. They pulled out onto a road with 40mph speed limit, and were blindsided by an idiot doing 120mph.

    2) After car accidents, people often have "heart attacks" when they lose so much blood that their heart muscles start to die. I don't think the guy died because he got too excited looking at the porsche's pretty stickers.

    3) The family of the deceased received tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars as a payoff, on the condition that they make that plea.
  • Speed isn't the problem it's moron drivers
    Of course. But speeding tickets make money.

    </tinfoil hat>?
  • Re:Team Polizei (Score:2, Informative)

    by Michael O-P ( 31524 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @02:27PM (#21014005) Journal
    And apparently you have never driven through a small town with an overzealous police department.

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