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Bug Transportation Technology

Driver Trapped In Speeding Car At 125 Mph 1176

Posted by timothy
from the can't-wait-for-robot-cars dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Guardian reports that Frank Lecerf was driving his Renault Laguna in Northern France when the car's speed jammed at 60mph. Then each time he tried to brake, the car accelerated, eventually reaching 125mph and sticking there. While uncontrollably speeding through the fast lane as other cars swerved out of his way, he managed to call emergency services who immediately dispatched a platoon of police cars. Realizing Lecerf had no choice but to keep racing along until his fuel ran out, they escorted him at high speed across almost 125 miles of French motorway, past Calais and Dunkirk, and over the Belgian border. After about an hour, Lecerf's tank spluttered empty and he managed to swerve into a ditch in Alveringem in Belgium, about 125 miles from his home. 'My life flashed before me,' says Lecerf. 'I just wanted it to stop.' His lawyer says Lecerf will file a legal complaint over 'endangerment of a person's life.'"
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Driver Trapped In Speeding Car At 125 Mph

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  • Neutral? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @05:30PM (#42902331)

    And this car didn't allow it to be shut off or to be shifted into neutral to release power to the wheels? Swerving through traffic gaining speed was the answer?

    Glad he didn't have a full tank or he might have broken orbit by now ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @05:49PM (#42902727)

    The strangest things about this mythical story is that Renault is an anagram of Neutral.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2013 @05:53PM (#42902813)

    Says who? Have you ever tried it? My car won't allow me to shift into neutral when I'm at highway speeds. I can only move it into that stupid manual-shift mode, where the computer still won't let me downshift if it would result in redlining the engine.

  • by ls671 (1122017) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @06:07PM (#42903021) Homepage

    I would recommend against this practice mainly for security reasons. You may suddenly need to accelerate to avoid an accident.

    It is generally accepted that it is otherwise useless anyway. Google for:

    should i shift in neutral going down hill

  • by Chuckstar (799005) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @06:20PM (#42903203)

    Uses less gas to stay in gear and shut off fuel to the engine. This is because it doesn't merely shut off fuel to the engine, it also opens all the valves. This reduces engine drag down to a pretty low level. So your choices for coasting are (i) coast in gear with minimal engine drag or (ii) coast out of gear with zero engine drag, but gas going to the engine to keep it spinning. The first option wastes less energy overall.

  • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @07:17PM (#42903941)

    The article says that while he was unhurt, he did suffer two epileptic seizures.

    So, why does France issue Driver's Licenses to people subject to epileptic seizures?

  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @07:19PM (#42903963) Homepage Journal

    Well, I guess because not everything called "epilepsy" acts identically. It's conceivable to me at least that while some people who are diagnosed with "epilepsy" cannot drive a car safely, others can.

    I know someone who has an "epilepsy" diagnosis but no visible symptoms. She can be on the EEG machine and talking with her doctor while the machine is saying she is having a seizure. She wouldn't even know she had "epilepsy" if she hadn't volunteered to be a subject for a research project.

  • by PAjamian (679137) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @07:52PM (#42904385)

    Even on older cars the default state of the clutch is engaged. Most cars have a hydrolic clutch which can fail due to a burst hose or failed seal, etc. Other cars have a manual clutch which is basically just a cable that can fail from fatigue (the clutch cable breaks). In either of these cases if the clutch fails it is left *engaged* which means that you cannot release it. The only case of a clutch failing and not leaving the engine engaged is when the clutch plate itself is worn out and then you get what is known as the "clutch slipping" (and eventually not engaging at all).

  • Re:Awesome (Score:2, Interesting)

    by demonlapin (527802) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @09:17PM (#42905145) Homepage Journal
    He doesn't have a cell phone, doesn't call anyone, and not a single police officer bothers to pull up beside him and yell "Put it in neutral!"? Steering locks in the US only engage when you are in park. Are you telling me that European automatics don't have a steerable neutral? How the hell do you tow something?
  • Re:Awesome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @03:01AM (#42907465)

    The Airbus FBW system is a little bit more complicated than that. It has different "laws" which it enters when it detects a problem or broken sensor that it cannot handle and thus gives the pilot more authority since unlike your biased assumption, Airbus too expects situations that the computer cannot handle or adapt to to occur. Air France 447 is of course an example of how the pilots in that situation failed to earn their money when they were supposed to handle the situation - even though one of them says out loud "alternate law", the least experienced one keeps pulling up so that the aircraft stalls. He was clearly still thinking that the computer would sort it out even though stall protection is one of the protections disabled in alternate law and he should've remembered that.

    Pilots could also easily force the computer out of normal law by switching off the "flight augmentation computer", which can be done with a switch in the overhead panel. However, either because pilots prefer to have the protections in an emergency or because intentionally switching to alternate law is not part of any procedure, they don't do it.

    And finally, both Boeing and Airbus allow the pilot to disable the autopilot at any time but I'm not sure whether you fully understand the difference between FBW and autopilots.

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