Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Modern technology can be wonderful. 

Just the other day I was riding in the shotgun seat of a friend’s new BMW SUV and got to see it work up close.  It has all the new technology including smart cruise control.  Apparently, you set the interval between yourself and the car in front and the car will adjust your cruising speed to maintain that distance.  This works best if you’re the only driver on the road.  On most highways a space bigger than 1.5 car lengths is an open invitation for frustrated, Nascar driver rejects to prove they can draft six inches behind any car at any speed.

We were on curve in South Carolina, when a non-descript car slipped in between us and the car in front.  When that car braked suddenly, the BMW having quicker reflexes than the driver jammed on the brakes and prevented a crash.

I was impressed and finally had a chance to ask my question: “If the driver wanted to, can you override the auto controls and run someone over?”

There was a little silly laugh from the driver and his wife who was in the back seat, until my wife remarked, “No, he’s serious.”  Then it got uncomfortable.

It appears there isn’t an override or a quick one button deactivate.  Too bad.

It’s not too hard to imagine some criminal jumping in front of the car with a remote control weapon (AKA: gun) as the first step to a robbery or kidnapping.  I can easy image the possibility of you seeing a stranger dragging your child, wife, niece, nephew into a strange car and deciding you need to crash in to the vehicle to prevent a getaway.

Too bad if your car stops you.

The point of the story is if you are justified in shooting someone, you’re justified in running them over.
We should talk more about this, as I’m not discussing backing over them several times.  Let’s revisit this again.

My friend driving was uncomfortable with my question.  He doesn’t realize that I believe him to be the target of a swoop and squat.

The car on the left was following too close and the right car suddenly braked.  When you break the trunk goes up and the front end goes down.
Swoop and squat is a simple concept with many variable scenarios.  The basic plan requires two cars and the target.  The lead car tries to create a distance between themselves and the victim just a big enough space for the second car to pull into it.  The second car, often in the other lane for timing purposes, pulls into the space and the two cars simultaneously brake.  This causes the victim’s car to crash into the second, possible the pushing the second car into the first. 

The first car gives legal fiction to the second car should there be a witness not part of the scam.  “I braked suddenly, Officer, when the car in front to me braked.”  Since the first car isn’t hit and leaves the scene, all that’s left is you following at an unsafe distance and not having your car under control.  Since you hit him, guess who gets the ticket and is cited as at fault.  Meanwhile, second driver starts moaning about his neck….

From there it’s whiplash, lawsuits, police, insurance claims, perhaps a little fear and intimidation and an offer to settle out of court for a healthy chunk of change.  A middle age driver of a BWM might fit the desired victim profile.

Why do I think that?  From the front passenger seat on the curve I could see both sets of tail lights come on at the same time.  No lag time between the front and second car’s break lights.  It was like they had a signal or rehearsed it.  When nothing happened, both cars sped away from us at a high rate of speed.

I guess that’s the second lesson I want to talk about.  We each have the potential to be a victim of opportunity anywhere, New York City or the low country of South Carolina.  Take steps to reduce your apparent victim profile!

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