The Pilot Car . . .

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In the Before Time, when you encountered a crew working on the road, it was standard operating procedure to note where the workers and equipment were and proceed around them. There was usually a flagman who waved you through the work area – and another at the other end, holding traffic headed the other way, which would be flagged through in its turn.

Today, traffic is guided through by the Pilot Car. Because – apparently – licensed drivers are no longer to be presumed capable of driving through the work zone without running over the workers or into the equipment. It is too challenging to their abilities to drive where the work is not happening.

And so, the Pilot Car.

You wait for it as well as wait your turn to go through the work area. The Pilot Car  shepherds the cars going the opposite direction through the perilous Zone and then pulls off, waits – and eventually turns around. It then assumes the leadership of the conga, which only then is flag-waved forward. This wastes another several minutes of your time, which is of course something of no value – to those endowed with the power to waste it, by forcing you to needlessly wait.

They don’t care anymore about the value – to you – of your time than a sour-pussed DMV frau.

A Frau…

They also apparently do not care about the “emissions” that result – needlessly – as a consequence of having a truck or an SUV (usually) or (as in this case) a minivan burning fuel all day long, Piloting cars through the Perilous Work Zone. Which in this case was one lane of a two-lane being repaved, obviously enough. The other lane being, obviously enough, the one you drove on.

The fact that it is – supposedly – necessary to have a Pilot Car to show people which lane is the right lane to drive upon is indicative of one or two things at least and probably both. The first is the presumption – by the government, which is responsible for maintaining the roads – that there are so many incompetent drivers on the loose that everyone must be presumed incompetent, a danger to the workers as well as to themselves. No one can be trusted to evaluate the situation and act responsibly – because there are a few who cannot be trusted to drive where indicated – and to not drive over the workers or into the equipment.

This Presumption of Incompetence principle has become the common underlying justification for myriad insufferable (to the competent and responsible) things either required by the government or foisted on the population via the corporations that now serve as government’s “private sector” helper. Both of them working together to turn the population into a gaggle of helpless children in adult bodies by treating them as if they were not very bright children who will never grow up and who would otherwise hurt themselves and others.

Over time, the population accommodates itself to this low standard.

Examples of the way it works include what is styled Park Assistance Technology – which almost every car made since about 2015 came standard with. It uses “technology” – cameras embedded in the front and rear bumpers of the car, along with cautionary beeps and even a steering wheel that makes the needed adjustments on its own – to “assist” him in doing what is arguably the most basic skill every driver ought to possess if he is worthy of the title.

And if he is not?

Does it not beg some questions? As for instance about this business of having to obtain a license from the government in order to be allowed to drive? It is increasingly apparent that this has very little – if anything – to do with driving. More precisely, with having demonstrated that one possesses the basic abilities to competently drive a car – without requiring the “assistance” of “technology.”

Or for that matter, a Pilot Car.

If a person cannot curbside park a car – not a 2500 dualie with a30-foot-long RV hanging off a gooseneck – then how is it that such a person can be licensed to drive a car? And if a person cannot competently park/back-up a 2500 dualie with a 30-foot-long RV hanging off a gooseneck without the “assistance” of “technology,” then does it not raise questions about the soundness of such a person driving a big truck with a 30 foot RV hooked up to it?

The fact is a driver’s license is just a government ID. A means to identity who you are – not whether you can drive.

It is nothing like a pilot’s license – which requires the person who possesses it to demonstrate the ability to competently operate an airplane – without “assistance.” When the candidate solos, he must fly the airplane. There is no Advanced Take-off Assistance Technology – and thank God for that. If there were – and if the pilot depended on it to fly the airplane – he would not be equipped to fly the airplane if the “technology” glitched.

Back to this business of the Pilot Car.

If so many “drivers” – so-called – are so inept and potentially dangerous that they must be shepherded (at Gimp Speed) through a work zone because they otherwise would drive where the workers are working, then perhaps every “driver” ought to be shepherded by a Pilot Car everywhere they “drive” – in the interests of saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.

The Pilot Car could assist those who never learned to merge with traffic, parting the way and leading the way. It could relieve the “driver” of the anxiety that accompanies having to drive. Hook a tow bar up and you’re ready to go.

Straight back to sleep.

. . .

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56 COMMENTS

  1. People are definitely driving much more poorly, because cars are so damn easy to drive, they’re distracted by cell phones, all that.

    However, over the 30 years that I’ve been driving, I’ve noticed that visibility in pretty much all cars has gotten a lot worse. I used to have little trouble parking 1980’s land yachts, or my 1990s Camry, or vans or whatever, but these days, I had trouble seeing enough reference points in my Focus, or my Cayenne to park them accurately without curbing the wheels. Car belt lines have gotten taller, rear windows have gotten smaller (And a big downside of this is you can’t put your elbow on the door sill!)

    I don’t think it’s just the drivers, it’s the cars too. I now use the side view cameras in my Cayenne to park it, can’t do it with those walls of metal enclosing me.

    Another pet peeve I have is people parking 20′ away from the line at intersections, and not triggering the light sensors, and waiting forever. They remind me of cows standing in a field chewing.

  2. I have to echo what many posters have said about not having Pilot Cars in their state – I have never seen or even heard of such a thing in Connecticut or anywhere in the northeastern U.S. I assume someone in Virginia who can’t drive did something stupid through a work zone and now everyone there must be treated like children.

    However, not to long ago here in CT, a highway worker was killed by a speeding car (with an obviously incompetent driver) and now the state speed Nazis have installed speed radar and cameras to monitor vehicles traveling through construction projects on the highways. Drive too fast through the zone? Your plate is scanned and you receive a ticket in the mail.

  3. Eric, the one thing I noticed, is the distance from where you were sitting and waiting to when you actually reached the so-called construction area. I was expecting road work, not brush cutting crap.

  4. Hey Eric,

    Watching your video, it looks possible that they were simply being a bit lazy and didn’t want to put out cones to block off the right lane? Maybe their cone budget was depleted? Maybe they were saving on their labor budget by hiring one person to drive the Pilot Car instead of a guy to put out cones and two slow/stop sign wielding sentries to coordinate traffic through the Zone?

    Now, wait ’til we get a rogue Pilot Car Pilot, and he or she leads a convoy of trusting and innocent citizens on a path of destruction through traffic barriers, over pedestrians, and through residential houses. Oh the humanity!

  5. Car related comment:

    Nissan has a share price of 7.70 USD on the NYSE today.

    Nissan shares are also sold on the Tokyo Exchange for 555.9 Japanese Yen.

    One dollar will buy 144 Japanese Yen at Kitco.

    4×144 = 556 Japanese Yen.

    Ergo, one share of Nissan (7201.T) is valued at a little more than four dollars per share while over at the New York Stock Exchange one share of Nissan is $7.70.

    Shares of Nissan at NYSE look expensive or something.

    Could be a problem for some reason or other.

    Buy Japanese Yen, then buy shares of Nissan on the Tokyo Exchange for four dollars per share. Transfer them to the NYSE and sell the shares there.

    Kind of troublesome, maybe, have a lending institution help you out with a ten million dollars in funding. Cash it all in a few days later.

    The Russians are shrewd horse traders, exchange Rubles for Yen then Yen to dollars.

    A buck, a yen, a pound, a mark, it makes the world go round.

    I’d rather dig holes and I do.

    CBDCs could cause chaos in the banking industry and financial sectors everywhere.

  6. Totally off-topic, but hey, C’mon, this article is a rehash of one from not very long ago anyway! 😀

    In Argentina, Javier Milei is running for president. Milei is running as the La Libertad Avanza candidate- He is styled an anarcho-capitalist! There are, I think, 5 candidates running- and they say that the election will be very close, as all the candidates appear to have near equal support. It is said that Milei stands as good a chance of winning as all of the others (Which of course includes all of the usual suspects- like the bitch who wants to “ease restrictions on the use of police force”). Milei is quite popular among young males.

    Could be interesting for Argentina, and for those of us looking to escape police-state USA.

    • Argentina is running 114% inflation now. And that’s not an aberration. Since a hundred years ago, it has lopped thirteen zeroes off its currency due to hyperinflation … and would need to lop off two more, for a total of fifteen, to restore even near-parity to the USD.

      Until the BCRA (Banco Central de la República Argentina) and its culture of perpetual inflationism is abolished, Argentina will NEVER be un país serio (a serious country), as its late President Nestor Kirchner promised twenty years ago.

      Ol’ Doug Casey started a libertarian colony near Cafayate, Salta (beautiful place) back in Kirchner’s time, but is notably circumspect about it now. Argentina’s viveza criolla is a deep-set cultural rot that, like US belligerence, probably can’t be fixed.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viveza_criolla

      • I understand Dougie put a ton of his own money into the place and has probably taken a serious hit on the ole balance sheet, which is prolly why he’s not saying a lot. He now seems to split almost all his time between Uruguay & Virginia (Virginia, what? huh?). Jeff Berwick is another anarchist who lost his shirt on a real estate venture down in Chili about a decade ago and he’s also tight lipped. He got into a nasty lawsuit on the deal & maybe under a gag order. But the point is these guys were staunch advocates of having a second residence in a foreign land as a getaway when the shtf. It just goes to show you how difficult it can be to land on your feet when you attempt to do so.

        Obviously one must have a stash of Rubles to try such a gambit which leaves me out. Regardless, I’m not willing to risk jumping out of the frying pan into the almost guaranteed frying pan. Besides, do you really want to live somewhere where you’re the only gringo in town, and an amerikan one at that, constantly saying “¿hablas inglés??” No thanks, I’ll take my chance staying put in the amerikan Reich and hope for the best.

        Btw thanks for pointing out that Spanish term Jim. Havent heard it before. Velly interesting.

        • Hey Dave,
          What ever happened to Jeff Berwick? Haven’t seen any of his vids around in a long time.

          Funny thing, but whether it’s people starting religious communities, or libertarian communities, whatever….they virtually NEVER work-out well.

          I would think that anyone sincerely wanting to associate with other libertarians would just advise other interested parties of what things are like where they are, and encourage them to live nearby if interested. Trying to start a formal libertarian community in a city that is controlled by a government seems pointless; and when the motive of profit is involved, it never bodes well.

          Doug Casey lives in a million-dollar penthouse when he’s in Argentina- in a city in which I don’t think he can enjoy any more liberty than what he’d have here- and probably a lot less, depending on where ‘here’ one compares it to.

          If we’re going to try and obtain any degree of liberty, wherever it may be, I think we are all going to have to do it on our own, and just hope for voluntary association with those who may see what we’re doing and where we’re doing it- which seems perfectly appropriate for our philosophy. Beware of libertarians who are seeking to profit from libertarianism, or who want to organize something, as that organization will just tend to become another level of (quasi)government, and further stifle our pursuits, right?

          I like a lot of the posters here on Eric’s site…I think many are far more/better libertarian(s) than the vast majority of libertarian writers/showmen. A lot of the latter seem to want to be human pilot cars…..only (unintentionally) lead people to the dead-end.

          • Berwick’s still around selling his investment stuff but yeah, he’s not quite as visible as he use to be. I threw in the towel on the guy prolly 3 or 4 years ago as he was just getting too flaky for my taste. Although a staunch libertarian with enormous talent, his personal philosophy seemed to bounce around from one version to the next, trying to find himself and the meaning of life. Very weird.

            I think it’s somewhat common to find advisors promoting 2nd passports, overseas property investment & hard money investment advice – and claim to be libertarians – are in fact pseudo-libertarian. They’re a bunch of shysters and your warning about “those seeking profit from libertarianism” is spot on. I’ve seen a lot of evidence to support this and these guys would sell their mother down the river if given the chance. Now I would certainly trust a genuine “believer of the faith” over practically anyone else in a business transaction, but obviously you still need to do due diligence.

            My suspicion about pseudo-libertarians goes beyond those in business. I don’t know about you but I’ve seen too many examples of people seemingly opining under our banner & giving us a bad name when they misstate our philosophy. I think a lot of this is intentional and they should be called out when possible. And we’ve all seen instances of some dissatisfied republican who now claims the libertarian mantle and promptly shoots themselves in the foot in a debate. Aye yai yai!

            Say, you live on the east coast of the Reich, don’t you? Have you ever attended Porcfest up in N.H.? They just had their annual get-together and it would be interesting to hear how the Free State Project is getting along. I’ll bet you’d get a lot of varied opinions about that. I’ll tell you what, I’ll chip in a $20 spot for you to go next year if you promise to send me some feedback. Heck, maybe we can get Eric and some others here to contribute too! How bout it?

            • Hi Dave,

              I’ve thought about organizing a get-together at my place for years. People could camp on my field and we could have a bonfire/roast some meat, etc. It’s always about time – and I never seem to have enough. I will keep working on it, though!

            • Mornin’ Dave,
              I fully agree with you on all points.
              I just used to enjoy Berwicks videos, in which he’d walk around wherever it is in Mexico that he resides/ed. Yeah, definitely flaky, but good entertainment with a libertarian spin.

              I’m in southern KY, so quite a ways from NH (Might’ve relieved you of that twenty if I were still in NY [shudder] though!). Haven’t seen the last few porcfest vids…had kinda forgotten about it. That’ll give me something to do on a rainy day- although I really don’t “get” those sorts of things- I mean, I love that there are enough people to come together over the topic…..but really, if we already “get it” what is the point of sitting in a field and listening to people tell us what we already know and believe?

              Eric nailed it when he said that “we just need to live it”. Sadly, Larken Rose has been so occupied with creating “The Mirror” for the last several years that he seems to have largely neglected all else- which is a shame, as he is one of the best and most sincere promoters of libertarianism out there today, who both truly gets it, and is not seeking to enrich himself by it. (The same also applies to Eric, of course!).

              The Mirror is a brilliant idea, and could be very effective. I wonder if it will ever come to fruition? Creating it is just half the battle, too; the other half is getting it into the hands of those who would benefit the most from it, which will be a difficult thing, likely requiring even more effort and money than it’s actual creation. It’s kind of sidelined LR.

          • Morning, Nunz!

            I’m deep into my third cup so far and not quite running on all cylinders yet but (bear with) I think you’re right that libertarianism is a deeply personal (and individual) thing, in a way not unlike Christianity of the disorganized kind. People of like mind can commune, but organized communities are probably putting the cart ahead of the horse. What I mean – or am trying to convey (more coffee) is that when a sufficiency of people in a given area share a common system of values, you end up with a natural community that’s just sort of “there.” To a significant extent, we had this in many area of this country for many years; there is less now because the value system has been so systematically assaulted, especially via the corruption (the crippling) of children by government schools and the assault upon the family, tradition and so on.

            How are these things recovered? Well, by practicing them, I suppose. Each of us eventually adds up to a lot of us and – before you know it – things get better without anyone having been elected Leader.

            I need another cup now…

            • Well-said, Eric!
              Of all people, those who espouse libertarianism should want to be free of the constraints of yet more rules and obligations being imposed on them by others- and it’s not as if they would even be doing so in a free environment, but rather they would still be under the auspices of whatever government exists in the locale where their community is established- the community just essentially being yet another layer of government which further erodes their autonomy instead of affording greater autonomy.

              Commun(iti)es are for communists.
              Libertarianism is about purely voluntary association and individualism/autonomy/self-ownership. If some want to delegate those things, that is fine, but they then can’t really call it libertarianism. It becomes no different than “limited government” to achieve safety [LOL] and convenience and ‘common wealth’ (Yeah, how’s that working out for them?).

              This is where LRC goes off the rails too, with his redefining of libertarianism as replacing government with ‘privitization’ [The delegating of responsibilities] to corporations, which amounts to replacing one tyrant with another (The very creation of corporations requires the squelching of the rights of others for the benefit of protecting the corporate owners from liabilities- thus requiring a government to force those others to abide by the artificial conditions it imposes in order to maintain corporations.

              It truly is all about living it!

              And you are correct, of course- we did have that in many parts of this country at one time- and I think what largely destroyed it was not some outside force or targeted assault by enemies, but rather the propensity of the residents of the their respective locales to codify and legislate what they had, which of course means that only some people get their way while others are punished for not conforming…..

      • Exactly, Jim- but that’s the inty-resting thing: With Melie being an An-Cap, he is all for getting rid of the Central Bank (as well as the government school system, etc.). Even with the current problems, Argentina is the one place in all of Central/South America that I haven’t completely written off…you just don’t deal with the Argentinian ‘pisso’ (No one takes it seriously)- If you have some of our crappy USD’s there…you’re a king.

  7. Keep you deductibles high to control costs.
    We use $1000 for collision, $500 for comprehensive and $2500 for home insurance. We pay for small damages with our own cash to keep our insurance rating and insurance costs low. We have never made a claim because we never have accidents.

    If you have a low insurance policy deductibles, and then make one or more small claims, the insurance company will screw you with higher premiums for years to come. This has happened to friends, and they later regretted making small insurance claims for minor damages.

      • Hi Richard,

        It’s paradoxical, isn’t it? You buy “coverage” – presumably to be “covered” – because (presumably) you don’t want to have to pay out for damages. But when your car is damaged, if you file a claim, the mafia makes you pay (in the form of higher premiums).

        So what is the point of insurance? I mean as other than a way for the mafia to collect money?

        • “You buy ‘coverage’ – presumably to be ‘covered’ – because (presumably) you don’t want to have to pay out for damages.”

          Hi Eric,
          It’s not really because you don’t want to pay out for damages; it’s because you don’t want to pay out – all at once – a large amount that would seriously impact your finances.
          You might recall that in retirement I am on the board of a small farm mutual P&C insurance company. Nobody forces people to buy what we sell. Our agents encourage policyholders to set their deductibles higher if it makes sense for them. Everybody is different, so there can be no blanket rule of thumb. They have to do the math for themselves. If they believe several $1,800 claims would really hurt them, then a $2,000 deductible doesn’t make sense as they would be paying for those $1,800 incidents themselves.
          We also have a claim-free discount, which kicks in if you go four years without a claim. The possibility of losing that discount is a disincentive to turn in fussy little claims, like when the lightning knocks out your $200 TV (all claims cost us money to process). Every time a policyholder thinks of filing a claim, he asks himself, “Is losing my claim-free discount worth it?” Again, it makes them do the math and think it through. Higher deductibles and the claim-free discount make economic sense for both policyholders and the company.
          Some years we make a few hundred thousand dollars in profit; other years we lose that much. So far in 2023 we are in the red, owing mainly to hailstorms. The cost of those claims has gone, shall we say, through the roof in recent years.
          There is no free lunch. If farm- and home-owners want to limit their risk, we have to charge them adequate premium. At our last board meeting, we voted to raise rates on homeowner policies. It’s the first increase we’ve had in a long time, and it will make my policy more expensive too.
          I don’t know much about car insurance, and I certainly don’t endorse forcing drivers to purchase it. My strategy is to have a high deductible on collision, since it is highly unlikely that I will have a wreck, let alone be at fault, and a lower deductible on comprehensive, since that covers things that I have no control over.

          • Btw, any net income that we have at year-end is required by state statute to go into our “reserves”: the funds we must keep available to pay claims.

    • Couple things. I’m Insuring cars for my kids, which is ridiculously expensive, I at least make them pay the deductible payment if it comes up so it can’t be too high or they won’t be able to do it.

      Other thing is if you are changing companies every year or so why care if they are going to want to raise the rates on you later as you will be with someone else?

  8. If there is a mile stretch of highway that is tore up to the dirt bed, one lane will be the work zone, be impassable. Cars will meet each other the only open lane road, you have to stop traffic in one direction in order for the traffic to clear the way from the other direction. The pilot car is used because the lane can change to the other side of the highway construction zone. You’ll have problems if you don’t. There can be detours, might do that, otherwise, you follow the pilot car to keep going through the zone.

    Off topic, a good read: Why Politicized Science Is Dangerous, Michael Crichton wrote it all down, explains a lot.

    It’s an eye-opener.

    • Excellent book from an excellent author! Required reading for all literate humans. So many of the concepts around the ‘Global Warming’ scam were discussed or foreseen in this book.

      I had to sit and wait over 45 min for the pilot car to come back a 1/2 mile and pilot us by the tree climbing and limbing workers and frontloaders the were using to remove tree sized limbs on the roadway then loading them up in dumptrucks. They cleared the lane and stopped working while we all drove by. I don’t see any benefit. I do wonder if it’s all because of timing of the work. If one lead car does 10mph all of the way then work gets behind schedule. Other lead cars may go 50mph and pose a danger. The pilot car did a reasonable speed and wasn’t really an issue for the situation, but working for an hour at a time with no regard to the 100+ humans wasting time just sitting and waiting was not right.

  9. “Over time, the population accommodates itself to this low standard.”- Eric

    Exactly and is what the problem with government schools graduating morons that cannot write in cursive and score so badly that the US now has to import engineers and programmers. Even with the importing of engineers the US could not get a hypersonic missile to work even though Russia, China and Iran have these in mass production. Meeting the lowest standard is pretty much in every level of society due to DIE.

    Qualify to drive. Yes times have changed. Today they use a car simulator to test rather than actually on the road. Can’t be too safe. A term used incessantly over the last three years.

    A little humor. In order to have more road space for right turns they added a lane. This required a light. Now we have two lanes of backed up traffic rather then one backed up when some yoyo from the north/north east refuses to turn. It’s against the law in those more civilized areas,,, ya know.

  10. When we take our RV camping, I always make sure we get there early enough so I can open a beer and sit in my lawn chair while other campers try to back into their sites.

    “Mawm back! Mawm back! Now left! I said left! No, I mean the other left!”

    If they put this on Netflix I would pay to watch it.

      • Saddist lake launch I witnessed in the late ‘70s – when the cool cats had those low slung racy boats with a chromed out V8 in the stern.

        Rough day on Lake Sammamish, wind tossing some wave chop up the boat ramp. Guy backs his pride and joy sparkly beauty down the ramp, as the shallow transom hits the water a big wave comes up the ramp and literally sucks the racy boat off the trailer, V8 weight finishes the job and his pride & joy is bobbing with about 4 ft of bow out of the water, owch.

  11. Certainly Pilot cars are not needed in most 2-3 lane construction zones.
    This likely started in the Western US where there can be major construction zones, going through mountains and such.
    I was going through one of them where they were literally moving a mountain. I think it was in Wyoming. It was my first experience with a pilot car and I soon learned why. As we meandered through the miles of dirt temp roads, there was no way they could isolate the correct path. No lines, no guard rails, unmarked cliff faces, sharp rocks, etc…, no nothing but mega construction equipment all over the place, mostly moving.
    Could I have navigated through, yes, but I could easily see whey they wanted a pilot car in that scenario.
    Unfortunately, this pilot car thing has probably grown to places it’s really not needed due to the insurance industry and/or unions. Sad

  12. Maybe the pilot car is being normalized to shuttle autopiloted freight trucks through work zones. I would imagine a vehicle like that would just freeze up at the prospect of crossing the double yellow and travelling in the oncoming lane without the aid of a rabbit to follow another chunk of code.

  13. My guess is that the pilot car driver is a highly paid make work position requiring a CDL.

    Probably a quota hire gig too.

  14. When one has to drive in the ‘wrong’ (left) lane due to construction on a two-lane highway, usually the departure and return to the right lane are marked with orange traffic cones. These can be poorly visible, poorly placed, or knocked over.

    Humans being herd animals and creatures of habit, any departure from the usual traffic lane configuration increases the likelihood of driver error. Whether it was construction unions, state highway departments, or US DOT that started pushing pilot cars is unknown to memory-impaired Google search.

    Had to follow pilot cars four times in recent weeks due to a nearby repaving project. Unlike the still winter-damaged roads to our north, the highway leading to our nearest market town is now pristinely smooth. No one is complaining.

  15. I’ve never seen a pilot car in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, or West Virginia.

    That said, I wonder if the whole thing is a form of “feather bedding” to create “make work” jobs to please the unions, but couched in terms of “safety.”

    Speaking of which, one instance where you can refuse to do your job and not face bad consequences is when you don’t feel that it’s safe to do so. Which is exactly what happened with The Covfefe Virus and public schools.

    What’s more, the whole thing may also be a way for road crews and construction companies to meet DIE requirements, which many states, counties, and cities have in their bidding requirements, without putting the less qualified people in positions where they can do real damage. You can say, “We do have fat gender queer nonbinary people of color—look at the flaggers and the pilot car drivers!”

    I would not be surprised.

  16. Back in the 90s there was a road construction contractor in central PA who hired college-aged women to run the stop/slow signs. Nothing keeps your attention like a hot blonde in Daisy Dukes and a high vis vest…

    I can’t believe the amount of highway they tied up for that work zone. I’d watch the video again to look for mileposts, but I don’t have that kind of time this morning. A few warning signs and cone off the area around the bridge should be more than sufficient. Macadam sets up pretty quickly once rolled out, not like concrete that has to cure.

    That has to be one of those knee jerk reactionary regulations after something happened that became a “safety issue” because someone wasn’t situationally aware. So now everyone has to pay the price for one idiot’s behavior. Just like grade school where teacher makes the whole class pay for the class clown’s insulting comment… or that scene in Full Metal Jacket where private Pyle hides the jelly donut in his foot locker. We’re all on this shared resource together after all, so GO TEAM COLLECTIVE!

  17. In my part of Dixie every “driver” that no me importa soy un extranjero ilegal (doesn’t care he’s an illegal alien) from Mexico / Central America / every other third world shithole can’t be troubled to follow the law and slow down for construction workers.

    • Oh the same here in Central WA. We’re at the point that it isn’t so much incompetence as it is blatant irresponsibility and lawlessness. If you’re a protected minority under the “equity policing” doctrine here in WA anything goes. Wrong way drivers on the freeway, hit and run, vehicular homicides with little to no jail time, on and on. Two examples of “equity” in action:

      Neighbors niece killed by a hit and run driver who was still drunk when the cops finally caught up and arrested this repeat DUI hours later. Got 4 years for that.

      Supervisor where I worked rear ended a stalled car on the freeway killing several. Drunk, high on pot, half empty booze bottle on the floor. NO CHARGES other than the DUI. Apparently the victims fault for being in a stalled car.

      WA has added attenuation protection on road work sites as well as pilot cars for certain areas. The Scorpion system is pretty universal here.

      https://www.traffixdevices.com/products/attenuators/scorpion2-tma

      • I hope for your sake the secession movement in eastern Washington and eastern Oregon is successful. I used to love working in Seattle; now there’s no amount of money you could pay me to go back.

  18. Eric,

    The only reason I can think of to have the pilot car is to control speed through the work zone; anyone behind the pilot car has to travel at or below the pilot car’s speed. Lower work zone speed limits are not only ignored in my area; they’re flouted! Even a small increase in speed can drastically increase the kinetic energy, or the energy of impact, between two objects. That is to say that even a small increase in speed can greatly increase the chances of a road worker getting killed if he’s hit by a car transiting the work zone.

    In physics, KE=1/2m*v^2; because the velocity component is squared, a minor increase in velocity results in a huge increase in kinetic energy. This explains how and why a motorcycle traveling at high speed can totally destroy a car; it’s because of kinetic energy. Why is the golfer taught to snap his wrists as his swing reaches the ball? Why is the baseball player taught to do the same as the bat passes over home plate? It’s to increase the rotational velocity of the golf club or baseball bat; this, in turn, increases the tangential velocity of the club or the bat; this is done to impart maximum kinetic energy to the ball. Even if the increase in club or bat speed is small, the ball will travel a lot farther. Why? Again, it’s due to kinetic energy.

    That’s the only thing that makes sense; those working on the road are trying to limit vehicle speed through the work zone. Back in the days of the 55 mph speed limit, cops would align themselves abreast, then travel 55 to limit the traffic behind them to 55. That is to say that they’d clog the highway or freeway lanes. I suspect that the pilot car is being used for the same purpose. Nothing else makes sense.

    • The only thing that matters is speed because it is easy to measure. But following distance plays a pretty big role in work zone incidents too. Especially WRT reaction time. The line of cars waiting for the pilot car and/or sign operator clumps up like they are parallel parked at a curb. Then all proceed to maintain that same distance throughout the work zone. If there would be a reason for someone to stop/slow down suddenly better hope the guy behind has good reflexes and isn’t distracted. I usually try to keep a pretty big space in front of me in work zones because I’ve been brake checked too many times over the years, but most people don’t. Trading paint is good for NASCAR, not my car.

    • @ MarkyMark
      >KE=1/2m*v^2
      Ayup. I’ll wager that most people do not understand that, while kinetic energy is a scalar, velocity is a *vector* quantity, i.e. has both speed and direction, which means that the relative velocity of vehicles traveling in opposite directions is the *sum* of their speeds, and the KE which must be absorbed in a wreck is proportional to the *square* of the relative velocity.

      Ask the average person if he/she would rev up his car to, say, 50MPH and drive it into a bridge abutment, and he/she would probably say, “Of course not, do you think I am suicidal?” But ask the same person if it would be “safer” to cross the double yellow into opposing traffic if all vehicles were traveling “only” 25MPH, and I’ll bet a majority, being ignorant of basic physics, would say “yes.”

      You ignore this at your peril. I once had a CHP (motorcycle) officer tell me that in *any* head on collision, CHP expects *at* *least* one fatality. On of his costumed colleagues, a “county mounty,” evidently didn’t get the memo, and chose to cross the double yellow while riding his government issue Kawasaki, back in 1989. He hit me head on, which totaled his employer’s Kawa, as well as my ’85 Ford Ranger. I walked away from the accident, but he died in hospital later that day.

      Having also been one of the guys working in the roadway, I can state from personal experience that too many drivers have absolutely no regard for the safety of highway workers. Even K-rail might not be enough to stop some of these clowns. They “are going where they are going,” and the rest of the world be damned.

      So, personally, and based on my own experience, I have no objection to pilot cars. In fact, I am in favor of their use, considering the very *dangerous* stupidity of the average driver.

      • ‘too many drivers have absolutely no regard for the safety of highway workers’ — Adi Heidler

        A widely-held belief is that one is entitled to drive the speed limit regardless of adverse conditions (rain, snow, crosswinds, poor visibility, construction hazards, etc).

        If the regular speed limit is 65 but the temporary construction site limit is 35, some drivers will just push on through at 65. “I didn’t know it was a workday;” “Didn’t look like anyone was working near the traffic lane;” “I was late for work;” etc.

        Very probably, pilot cars came about after highway construction fatalities caused by drivers suffering from poor judgment or congenital assholism. People and high-speed vehicles at close quarters, like teenagers and whiskey, is just a very bad mix.

  19. In Oregon, if someone gets a driver’s license at their local DMV office for the first time, they’re automatically registered to vote. The state claims that it registers people as “non affiliated voters”, but I’ve always thought it was a secret plot by the state government to register more DEMOCRAT voters so Democrats never lose state elections and have perpetual power in Salem as a result.

    And with the way some people drive these days, I can’t help but wonder if standards for even getting a driver’s license have also been lowered, especially after former Queen Kate Brown lowered standards for high school graduation before leaving office.

  20. I fear the lack of driving skill now apparent, at least in more densely populated areas, may justify such a “pilot car”.

  21. Pilot cars: I’ve never seen one in Michigan. What a waste of energy versus the usual two flagmen (often flag-women here in Michigan — they get the easy jobs in road construction). I wonder if some road construction union made that a construction work requirement after a construction worker was killed by a motorist passing by?

    The modern touch screens in cars completely violate an old auto engineering rule of thumb: Any IP control that takes the drivers eyes off the road for more than two seconds can be dangerous. The touch screens are also too bright for the best night vision and need to be dimmed. But few people we know do that.

    Parallel parking used to be part of the driving test — often the hardest part. But when you live in the suburbs, as we do, you rarely get to parallel park.

    My wife taught herself to drive my Mustang GT stick shift convertible one year so she could “steal” my company car for the summer. She could never parallel park that stick shift car. And SE Michigan is flat, not like San Francisco.

  22. Please allow me to go off topic and conclude my annual insurance story., related to a prior article. This could be useful for readers.

    Based on an insurance class I took in graduate school, I learned there is always an insurance company looking for new customers. They offer a great price for the first year and then hope you just keep paying their much higher price the next year. Most people do. Not me.

    That happens to me every year, because I shop for bargain insurance every year, and get a huge price hike for year two.

    This year my first independent agent saved $200 a year using different companies. I told him that was not good enough, and he never called back.

    I visited another independent agency yesterday and saved $670 per year for home and auto insurance, by using the only company looking for new business this year in Michigan. It was Safeco, the Liberty Mutual bargain brand that does not advertise.

    The result of two hours with insurance agents — one of the hours wasted — was $1,600 to insure my home and car for a year, versus the $2,270 that my existing companies wanted to charge.

    The price is still too high because there is not much competition in the insurance business. But it really pays to shop around. An independent agent can computer search dozens of insurance company quotes quickly to find the best price that year. It’s always a different insurance company than the year before.

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