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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sometimes I get asked if my racing experience helps on the street. Usually that’s not the case, as I refuse to street race, or do many extreme performance moves off-track. But the pandemic can create unexpected opportunities that demand the use of ingrained reactions and skills honed over decades of wheel-to-wheel racing.
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This weekend I drove my pre-order redline Z a few miles to play tennis on a fine fall day. Coming up to a stoplight, I was positioned in the far left-hand lane of a three lane avenue as a stoplight ahead turned red. Queued up behind a gold-colored, tinted window Camry, it was all too clear to see this late model Toyota hadn’t been washed in some time. As the light changed, the Camry was slow to accelerate, so I checked my mirrors and signaled for a change to the middle lane before starting to accelerate around. That was when the situation changed, and fast.

Shifting up easy into third gear, my peripheral vision suddenly picked up that the Camry was beginning to edge over right into my lane! The line of cars directly ahead was too close to allow me to cleanly accelerate past, so I glanced right and found the furthest right lane over was clear. The Camry kept coming, and remained within a foot of my door as the Z’s razor sharp steering allowed me to maneuver like making a pass at the start of a race in a tightly pack of racecars. Of course, I was also multi-tasking- honking my shrill, euro-type horn to warn the Camry driver they were driving almost straight into my Z!

Perhaps unconsciously, I used the VQ35DE’s ample torque to pull ahead and get into the right hand lane just before the Camry squeezed into it behind me. I rolled down my window and put my hand out to say what the ****, when the sight in my rearview mirror stopped me cold. Behind the Camry’s steering wheel was a tiny, white haired woman who was clearly struggling with driving. The windshield was the only non-tinted piece of glass that allowed me to see her predicament. She turned into a senior housing development shortly after and disappeared, probably oblivious to the shunt she had almost caused just seconds before.

I never saw the Camry driver again, but it reminded me of my own mother’s struggle to give up driving in her final few years. While this incident was over in seconds, it made me reflect that most accidents happen in the same span of time. Any hesitation on my part in coordinating throttle, brakes and steering could have resulted in bent sheet metal, curbed wheels, or worse. This is not to say that any alert Z car driver could have avoided contact, but years of bringing racecars home intact at the checkered flag certainly didn't hurt my chances! Ironically, driving during the pandemic is one of the few outlets left as infections rise during the last part of 2020. But Z car drivers must be aware that some of the worst (cars, trucks or drivers) are out there too. So stay frosty and share any close calls you had recently right here!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I posted this in hopes of hearing from other members on what's been happening in their neck of the woods. There's gotta be more 'near miss' stories like mine; or perhaps just what it's like to drive around your city during the pandemic. While the fall weather holds here in Colorado, the Z is my brief escape even if it's just to go to a local restaurant for pickup. I know others must be doing something similar in their city, so let's hear about YOUR story!
 

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Ironically, a Nissan Leaf driver almost broadsided my Z a few days ago in Denver. Can people not see a RED Z car? Or maybe they're from NYC and used to shoving their way way into traffic? Whatever, watch your six during the pandemic...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanksgiving day 2020- I'm thankful my Z remains intact and ready to run when it gets warmer here in Colorado. May that elderly lady have an epiphany about driving and decide to give it up before she piles into someone else. Stay safe and healthy, everybody!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This weekend I'm sampling a 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for a Redline Magazine article. There's a lot of safety technology in this car and I wonder if would help the driver who couldn't see me while changing lanes? There are high-res cameras built into the side mirrors that illuminate a side view of the car once the turn signal is activated. Backing it up are audible chimes that sound if you're not clear of a car in the next lane. Technology can be a wonder, but situational awareness remains the key ingredient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Must be something about pandemic driving that has me on high alert. This past Dec weekend was snowy, so the Z stayed in the garage. But I had a trip to the south of town on Sunday when I noticed a car approaching at high speed. It was a late model Honda Accord and we were driving on a wet (drying) highway. He passed me like I was standing still at 65 MPH and had to be doing triple digits on a crowded freeway. Lost sight of him pretty quickly, but wondered what had some driving that fast on a Sunday.

Coming back, I noticed a white truck coming up fast. Once again, this yahoo was weaving in and out of traffic in a Ford F150 and flashed by with about a foot clearance on my Versa SL hatchback. I've got four Michelin X-Ice radials on during the winter months, so traction on and off snow isn't a problem. But street driving isn't like driving at the track, and both the Accord and F150 were driving way faster than conditions would allow. At one point, the F150 swerved onto the shoulder to avoid rear ending a car in the far right lane and kept right on going.

One false move from either of these idiots and it could be a BIG WRECK on the highway. I didn't catch the license plate numbers, but if I did, the state patrol would be getting a call. Be careful out there! The pandemic isn't the only danger hiding in plain sight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
More pandemic driving stories from early 2021. Today on a busy stretch of road construction there was a 3 into 1 lane move and after allowing a truck into the lane ahead of me, a 30-ish woman in an late model Hyundai started moving into my lane. I tried rolling down my passenger window to ask her what she was doing. She didn't roll her DS window down, but instead gestured wildly behind her. Obviously running out of room before she hit the barrier ahead, I gave her some consideration and allowed her through. As we pulled up to the highway entrance, she never offered any thanks, just looked down at her cell with a look of disinterest. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be considerate.

Lots of highway construction as we go through a period of surprisingly warm weather in between snow storms. Just read about the State Patrol giving out tickets (13 in 90 minutes) up north as people were speeding through a 55 MPH construction zone. One was unfortunate enough to be clocked at 102 MPH, and man, I wouldn't want to see what that ticket would cost! Pandemic driving seems to be getting increasingly CRAZY and RUDE as time goes on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Concerning info from a local newspaper:

“There was an increase in speed-related crashes — not street racing — but just people driving faster,” Carleton said. “We had 35 total crashes with 36 fatalities and probably nine or 10 of those were crashes where people were just driving excessively fast.”
Aurora’s totals still sit below the 50 people killed on Colorado Springs roads last year, and the 48 who died on Denver roadways, according to Colorado Department of Transportation data.

Authorities pointed to the pandemic as a reason for increased speeds earlier this spring as roads emptied out while residents tried to wait out the virus from their homes instead of their offices."

I suspect this may carry on throughout 2021- be careful out there!
 
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