Saturday, August 24, 2013

ABC 20-20 "Highway Confidential": getting lost in Death Valley; hit-run CSI; most dangerous highwats

ABC 2020 “Highway Confidential” covered dangerous highways in the US, and various unpredictable hazards.
It started out with inaccurate GPS instructions, taking people to roads that no longer exist. A couple got into serious trouble after visiting Scotty’s Castle, near the Nevada border, when they go back into Death Valley.  I actually visited the place in December 1997 when I had rented a car in Las Vegas.  I had no problem finding it, or driving in Death Valley, but it was winter, with daytime temperatures in the 60s.  I stopped at a café somewhere and read some of Clive Barker’s  epic novel “Sacrament” (yet to become a movie).  Curiously, Reid Ewing mentions the place in his short film “I’m Free” (Movies, May 13, 2013).  On that 1997 trip, however, an ignition key actually broke at the Hoover Dam parking lot, and Alamo had to bring a replacement, taking two hours.  (What if that happened with a rental in summer in Death Valley?)
The couple’s tale on 20-20 is harrowing.  The car failed, and they spent the night in the desert.  The car started the next morning.  Buy they wandered in the wilderness a whole day and were not found until the next day by police helicopter after being reported missing.  It seems that the Garmin GPS got stuck on one direction.
Users are supposed to update the GPS’s with updates from the company.
20-20 then did a “CSI for cars” presenting a detective who investigates hit-runs.  The show accounts an incident in California where a female driver left the scene claiming she did not know she had hit a person.  This could be a serious problem, with cyclists for the way, when there is not enough room in a lane to pass them and there is no shoulder.  The link for this section is here
The last part was about “crawling out alive” after natural disasters, such as a car in contact with a downed power line (“bunny hop to safety”), a fire, an avalanche, earthquake (in a parking garage) or being submerged, including a woman who survived after being pushed off the Maryland Chesapeake Bay Bridge by a truck that rear-ended her.  The was a recommendation to keep a window hammer in the car.  A Navy Seal provided advice.  
The show concluded with the 10 (or more) Most Dangerous Highways in America, by John Constantin.  One “The Snake” near LA, NC 129, MA Rt 6 ob Capecod, Rt 17 in NY., Red Narrows (Rt 6) in UT,  Cross Bronx in NYC, US 24 in Ohio, BeeLine in FL, Highway to Heaven near Cincinnati OH, I- 15 near Las Vegas.  A driver demonstrates the Cross-Bronx in a 1951 Hudson.
Wikipedia attribution link for Scotty’s Castle picture. 

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