Danderous Drivers on 447

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Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby vertigo900 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:25 pm

During my 12 years attending Burning Man, on several occasions burners traveling to or from Black Rock City along highway 447 between Wadsworth and Empire have been seriously injured and/or died in multiple-vehicle accidents and head-on collisions. Sadly, I have stood next a fellow burner’s body and witnessed rangers assist life flight paramedics load gravely injured patients into helicopters.

I believe the quickest method to shut down the event will be for some locals to die outside of BRC because of some idiot burner’s driving. This year I witnessed 3 extremely close calls all within only 30 minutes which could have involved multiple vehicles and unquestionably resulted in serious injuries or fatalities to burners and/or locals. This is only my story…undoubtedly there are others.

Sure, we all know two-lane highways are notoriously dangerous. However, the stretch between Wadsworth and Empire is especially dangerous during Burning Man and Exodus. Why? Please read on.

This year while traveling to Black Rock City, I witnessed a very close near-head-on collision. We were traveling northbound on 447 in an endless convoy of burners holding a steady 55 mph. All along the way since the Pyramid Lake overlook several drivers were jockeying for position like it was NASCAR. After they played a ridiculous round of 447 leap-frog (passing someone, only to be passed by them) most of the drivers began to settle down and drive a steady 55 mph. As any veteran burner will tell you, this is top speed on highway 447 during the main event. As we approached the town of Empire, I began to notice in my side mirror a new round of vehicles leapfrogging up the convoy. As we neared Empire, still a solid 10 miles out, behind me I witnessed a VW bus attempting to pass another vehicle already traveling 55 mph and was lagging out there in the passing lane for a solid minute or two! Eventually an oncoming local’s car approached from the north and the VW bus didn’t yield in time. The oncoming vehicle began to sharply brake and drive off the road onto the steep shoulder, dust began to fly, and the small commuter car began to lien hard to the right, almost rolling over to it’s right side. The VW bus finally passed and got over. As the oncoming local’s car reentered the road at speed it nearly lost control and drove head on into the convoy of burners!

Not a minute after the VW bus driver completed their idiotic pass they obliviously attempted to pass me while I was going a steady 55 and had another 20 cars ahead of me traveling the same speed! I was BEYOND livid. Minutes after the near head-on collision I saw 2 cars attempting to pass nearly 15 cars in the endless convoy also traveling a steady speed of 55 mph. At the last minute, a third car pulled out to pass and appeared to not see the cars passing, almost sideswiping the the lead car. Now there were 3 cars bumper to bumper passing 10 cars until the next open slot. Lunacy!!!

A few minutes after passing me and entering Empire the entire convoy came to an abrupt stop for 20-30 minutes due Gerlach running out of gas. When many drivers got out of their vehicles, I attempted to calmly speak with the VW bus driver and discovered she was completely oblivious to the local’s car almost driving off the road and colliding w/ the convoy. I attempted to speak with the VW bus passenger who had switched to the driver’s position and she said “Oh, but we’re AHEAD of you.” Maybe she already had her own words with the driver; I don’t know. Surely, this is not how I had hoped to begin my burn. Semi-regretfully I didn’t flag down the Highway Patrol officers that slowly drove by us.

After years of dealing with drivers like this I find myself loosing my tolerance for the idiot, selfish burners endangering others lives. It is my only serious complaint about Burning Man. When burners hit the pavement they turn off their brains and their courtesy. Highway 447 is not the 405 in LA, nor is it Oakland 880. As an extreme athlete and former professional driver, I can factually state SPEED KILLS. I have lost several friends and co-workers to vehicle collisions and extreme sports accidents. And it will do so most efficiently on skinny two-lane roads with convoys of tired burners driving overloaded oversized vehicles all in an oblivious hurry futilely attempting to get somewhere faster than the person in front of them.

Ultimately, passing on highway 447 will be the one of the more dangerous activities many of us participate in at Burning Man. Have you ever noticed when no one is passing everybody is chill? Then when one car passes, their “sheep gene” kicks in and all the drivers then want to pass. Bottomline….please don’t pass unless someone is going extremely slow (below 40 mph) for several miles and it is absolutely safe. Please do not pass while in large convoys of RVs unless they are averaging 40 mph or below and you absolutely must pass. If they are traveling 45-55 mph or faster, PLEASE DO NOT PASS. I know it will be difficult for you to turn off your sheep gene when everyone else is doing it. However, PLEASE REALIZE you will just get behind another huge convoy of vehicles and only save yourself a max of 5-15 minutes while endangering everyone’s life out there. If you do choose to pass. Please have your headlights on, look in your mirrors so you don’t collide with some who’s already passing. Please pass ONLY in the designated passing zones when it is safe and clear. Please DO NOT PASS in multiple car passing convoys; only one car at a time. The lead car may cut it too close and then the middle vehicles are stuck driving head on into oncoming traffic. Please DO NOT PASS when it’s cutting it close to oncoming traffic. Please be patient, try to enjoy the scenery and drive safe. Trying to save 5-15 minutes is not worth your life or someone else’s. Waiting for 4 hours for your fellow burners to get life-flighted out will not save you time. We are all trying to get to the same place. Please just chill and enjoy the journey!

Please consider my story an important gift by sharing it with your fellow burners. It could save their life, a neighbor’s, or a Gerlach local’s as well as help the BMorg avoid major lawsuits and BLM permit loss. Realistically, in most communities preventive steps only occur AFTER a tragic accident. Please don’t let it come to that. We build this amazing city every year and collectively we have the capacity and intellect to prevent this BEFORE another tragic accident occurs. If we don’t talk about this, I believe the perfect storm of vehicle accidents will be inevitable.

I would like to ask the burner community to discuss this with each other and hopefully we can come up with some positive solutions. Do you have any suggestions? What kind of close-calls have you experienced? Maybe you think it's safe to pass 10 cars at a time. Do you think highway 447 needs the speed limit to be lowered to 55 mph for the event? I'd like to hear your thoughts. Thank you!
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby CapSmashy » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:02 pm

Your story here, the myriad of tales from others and the aftermath pictures I have seen from the vehicular stupidity along 447 is one of the core reasons I would never attempt to enter the city on opening night and wait until Wed or so if I was unable to get an early arrival pass. It is also why we stay late.

I had an extremely close call in 07 coming up 95 North between Vegas and Reno with some asshat trying to pass a line of 6 or 7 cars. It was a serious moment of road rage for me and had I not been so focused on keeping the truck under control in a heavy braking situation and trying to avoid putting the wheels in the soft shoulder which would have probably flipped me, he would have gotten much more than a middle finger and a steam of obscenities from my cab.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby CapSmashy » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:06 pm

I think what would really benefit 447 (and even 95 for those of us that come up from the south) are more turn outs for slow vehicles to clear the lane, climbing lanes for a few of the hills and improved shoulders along the roadway. The speed limit pretty much sets itself given the variety of large, slow moving vehicles on the roadway. Having options of somewhere to go in a slower vehicle would probably make it safer for everyone.

But then again, this is once a year, so I doubt NVDOT is going to be making those kinds of changes anytime soon.

You know what would really be nice? A real highway or interstate between Vegas and Reno.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby mudpuppy000 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:32 pm

It's just stupid trying to pass on that road. You'll get a few cars ahead then sit in the gate line for 4 hours, or the line into Gerlach for 45 minutes. Ridiculous.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby AntiM » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:46 pm

There are more turn-outs than in the past, at least three I bothered to notice as a passenger. A large Towed MV and the small caravan behind it did pull over, although if to let everyone else pass, I don't know. This was on the way in, on Saturday early.

Yes, we saw the lunacy too, and close calls on the way out. We weren't very fast ourselves, and slow on the uphills, but pulling over would have been a nightmare, losing what little momentum we had. Coming in early, we didn't slow down too many people, but seems like everyone had to blow off our doors to get home.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:30 pm

And these people don't seem to realize that ANY accident on that road could hold up traffic for HOURS!
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby ygmir » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:53 pm

am I the only one?

Image
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby hookahdude » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:57 pm

ygmir wrote:am I the only one?

Image


Bastard - You beat me to it...
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby ygmir » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:01 pm

hookahdude wrote:
ygmir wrote:am I the only one?

Image


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But, I didn't kill Kenny.............
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby hookahdude » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:06 pm

ygmir wrote:
hookahdude wrote:
ygmir wrote:am I the only one?

Image


Bastard - You beat me to it...


But, I didn't kill Kenny.............


+1
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby ibdave » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:14 pm

were driving in pre-friday and this white van passed us.. no biggie.. then she stopped at Nixon. She later passed us well out from Empire. As we approached the speed trap that the LEOs set up and I just made the 25mph mark with 3 radar gun tracking me, the white van was just pulling away from one of the LEOs. While at Gate my wife walked up to the van as asked if she got a ticket. She did and said that she didn't think they really meant all the warnings..... :roll: :roll: 8)
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby ctys20 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:38 pm

I think the best solution to dangerous drivers in general is for the police to write more tickets. Over 33,000 died last year on the highways and I doubt most of them were "accidents" i.e. aggressive drivers willing to take the ultimate chance for the smallest gain.

What I dont understand is when the police say they have to layoff traffic cops b/c of budget cuts?? How many tickets does a cop have to write to cover his shift?? Lets say the average ticket is $200 you would think only a few 2-3 would cover their expenses.

On the otherhand I'm not encouraging a "police state" but almost everyday I read about hit and runs, pedestrians killed, ect ect. There are just too many people who just don't care, it's like you're less-than-human if your a pedestrian or a bicyclist and I think the only thing that will change those kind of people is to hit them where it hurts - in the pocket book!
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby oneeyeddick » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:09 pm

I have been passed by these jackrabbit asshats prolly over 100 times going to and fro to the playa.

The big theme that I have noticed is that they ALL are from California, except for one guy from Idaho back in 2002.

I notice the same thing when driving in California, rudeness amplified just so they can be right in front of you.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby AntiM » Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:39 am

oneeyeddick wrote:I have been passed by these jackrabbit asshats prolly over 100 times going to and fro to the playa.

The big theme that I have noticed is that they ALL are from California, except for one guy from Idaho back in 2002.

I notice the same thing when driving in California, rudeness amplified just so they can be right in front of you.


I notice a lot of Colorado jackrabbits. I think because their state just close enough, if they push it, they can get the drive done in one shot. Fools, how far can you drive after you total your vehicle?
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby some seeing eye » Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:49 am

Suggest discussion btw BMORG and LEO, so someone could pass this on to them.

Put up no passing signs every mile on the dangerous sections for the dangerous times and enforce it. It's only 75 miles. They could say "Absolutely No Passing This Means You $500 Fine and Minimum One Hour Delay for Violators"

I know someone who was seriously injured (though by a sleepy driver) outbound. Traffic tickets harsh people's mellow, but much less so than an accident.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby ibdave » Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:56 am

License plate are just that... with all the rentals, the plate are meaningless... 8) 8) 8)
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby wedeliver » Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:08 pm

some seeing eye wrote:Suggest discussion btw BMORG and LEO, so someone could pass this on to them.

Put up no passing signs every mile on the dangerous sections for the dangerous times and enforce it. It's only 75 miles. They could say "Absolutely No Passing This Means You $500 Fine and Minimum One Hour Delay for Violators"

I know someone who was seriously injured (though by a sleepy driver) outbound. Traffic tickets harsh people's mellow, but much less so than an accident.


Excelent Idea. I am sure BurningMan contributes to a road fund. I think you might want to contact the road departments Washoe and Pershing counties, find out what needs to be done, then go infront of the Board of Commissioners with your proposal. I don't have any idea what the funding level is, but perhaps a turnout or two can be added to the roadway. Stiumlis funds and all, the event is growing and next year will be here before we know it.


Washoe county info is:The Commissioners meet in the County Commission Chambers, located at:

1001 E. Ninth Street, Building A
Reno, NV 89512

County Commission meetings are held twice a month on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, starting at 10am. Public hearings are scheduled at 6pm on meeting days.

Commission meetings are televised live and replayed on the Washoe Channel.

The public is encouraged to comment at the beginning of the commission meeting. Comments are limited to two minutes per person. People are invited to submit comments in writing on agenda items and/or attend and make comment on that item at the Commission meeti

Pershing county is not quite so easy to find. Good luck
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby wedeliver » Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:10 pm

ibdave wrote:License plate are just that... with all the rentals, the plate are meaningless... 8) 8) 8)

Not trying to go off topic, but I am always amazed at all the folks who come from El Monte, California. and they don't even all know each other, amazing.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby ibdave » Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:43 pm

8)
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby atomosk » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:05 pm

I am a local. I grew up on that highway and surrounding areas, and I can say that the traffic and the drivers is really the only thing about Burning Man coming through that locals hate. There's a mess on the road, people are very discourteous, and all those California plates are infuriating. That people try to pass each other and reach some max speed despite the complete obviousness that it will not get you there any faster because of all the traffic, is mind-boggling. The people from California stopping at gas stations and restaurants and saying things like, "thank you for being here for us," or "what do you think of us coming through?" shows a shitty mindset with a hint of unintentional condescension. We travel outside of the state all the time, have business all over, and we drive like responsible human beings based on where we are, and don't get off feeling like an alien element (unless we're in Europe :P).

Be you liberal or conservative, there's a strong libertarian streak in Nevada and people just GET Burning Man, people coming through is nothing new or shocking, but we despise California drivers driving like this is California, and acting like they're on an old west movie set when they stop.

That said, in Washoe Valley, on highway 50, between Reno and Carson, the residents have put of dozens of signs demanding people slow down, drive only 50mph, and reminding them of the consequences of driving drunk. Perhaps with permission or help from the tribe and/or washoe county we can put up similar signs ahead of the even and then collect them afterwards.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby Lassen Forge » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:34 pm

atomosk wrote:I am a local. I grew up on that highway... the people from California stopping at gas stations and restaurants and saying things like, "thank you for being here for us," ... " shows a shitty mindset with a hint of unintentional condescension...


Wow. Growing up also in rural Nevada, I never took a compliment as condecending... I'll remember, next time I gas up or stop an grab some chow or a drink at Brunos to give them a hearty Fuck You Assholes, rather than my customary smile and thanking them for putting up with us and engaging them in decent conversation. Or would pissing on the Nixon gas pump and telling the folks working the store to kiss my ass be more appropriate?

Yeah, there IS a mean libertarian streak that runs thru Nevada Cowboy Country (which I love dearly), but there's also an old fashioned courtesy and politeness that I only hope rubs off on the visitors coming thru. I don't think someone expressing a common courtesy is being condesceding... I think, instead, they may be "getting it". Fuck, I hope so... it's what I noticed. Even most of the jaded city types change, esp. by Exodus. Sorry you don't see that.

Anyway... since, due to my employer, I currently have California plates on my vehicles. I must be the most hated bitch in all of NW Nevada, right? Gak...
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby Major Krash » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:07 pm

just have the local government's (or whomever has jurisdiction over 447 between towns) pass a temporary "no passing" zone, and offer a $100 reward for every video shot of someone passing that leads to a conviction...then charge the ass-hats $500...the local's will clean up filming the law-breaker's...and folks might slow down and have fewer accidents...win-win
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby Lassen Forge » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:15 pm

I love the way the PLPD handles it - everyone who speeds thru Nixon gets a ticket. They'll shut 447 down to pull someone over. They have no sense of humor about speeders, and it gets the point across.

Of course, the Pyramid Tribal police have a very special place in my heart - one of their guys saved my ass when I was about 17 or so... long story hort, broke up with someone, went for a long drive up some dirt roads, and got lost out there on the res, with little gas and no water (I was so disoriented I didn't even know I had crossed onto Pyramid Reservation land... - this was LONG before things like GPS had been invented, BTW...), and someone saw the dust cloud from my car... He likely saved my life, and I learned a LOT about the Cui-ui eaters while sitting in that old Quanset and getting rehydrated and calmed down... ;)

There ARE places where there is enough sight distance to pass extremely slow moving vehicles out there... just be patient, relax, and if you can see ANYTHING in the oncoming lane (even way the fuck out there), OR you have anything OTHER than a dotted yellow line next to you (single or double stripe), OR traffic is moving along at anything over 45 MPH, relax, slow down, and enjoy the scenery out there! It ISNT worth your life, or those around you, to play the silly "I gotta be in front" game.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby Kinetik V » Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:11 pm

The no passing zone sign idea...unenforceable for the most part, and there's no budget to pay for the signs or the manpower to install them.

More aggressive enforcement? Possible, but where do you make a safe traffic stop? The areas that are safe are already scoped out and used.

***********************

The answer to this is not more laws, signs, calling *NHP (although if the driver is a total ass I will take their plate and call in a complaint when I get cell coverage), it's about education and awareness. For all the hot air the org wastes on not using Jungo Road, they could put more emphasis on educating and offering reminders about basic driving courtesy on 447. Treat 447 as a paved playa extension. You're not an ass on the playa, don't be one on the paved playa. Let the Burning Man experience begin when your tires roll off I-80 and hit 447. It's not just the speed and crazy passing that would scare a NASCAR driver half to death, it's the unsecured loads and the gobs of flying trash that need to be addressed too.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby AntiM » Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:13 pm

Every year in Exodus, I see a trailer/truck so badly loaded I take a picture. I'll post this year's loser when I get the laptop out.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby Kinetik V » Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:26 pm

AntiM wrote:Every year in Exodus, I see a trailer/truck so badly loaded I take a picture. I'll post this year's loser when I get the laptop out.


I wish the JRS would put in a section about trailer safety. Like lights that work. And how to use safety chains to keep your trailer with you so that I don't get to see the heart stopping trailer cartwheel races again. (3 1/2 complete flips is the most I've seen to date)
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:27 pm

Kinetic V wrote:I wish the JRS would put in a section...

Have you suggested it to them? I'm certain you could write a pithy email that covers what you want and why.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby Savannah » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:29 pm

Good idea, Fishy.

Kinetic V, there's info about submitting a post to JRS here:
http://www.burningman.com/blackrockcity ... _info.html
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby RedHeaven » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:28 pm

Ive been in California for 30 years and the DRIVERS MOSTLY SUCK TOTAL ASS. ITS TRUE. (I am the only good CA driver :)

WTF CALI???

As soon as I leave CA my driving anxiety goes away. EVERY time. It NEVER fails. Try driving across country, its heaven compared from going from my area in Tahoe to SF.....I would rather hit 80 and drive to Salt Lake or 5 and get int Oregon where the drivers are sane!!!

I think temporary signs for the Bman event would be a great idea. Fine their asses. ALSO, I did NOT know that the speed limit was 55 during the event. The signs say 70 MPH. They do. They should change the speed limit because I arrived on Tues and everyone was going 70. Of course, a bunch of CA assholes passed me and I was going 65!

Its the only sketchy thing about BMan.....I dont worry about theft and rape as much as I do about getting killed on that road.
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Re: Danderous Drivers on 447

Postby Kinetik V » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:44 pm

This morning parts of Vegas had over an inch of rain. There was a wreck on I-515....a 5 car pile up. Guess which state plates were on 4 of the 5 vehicles?

California.

*************
My last trip in the snow in Colorado. I'm descending down Vail Pass on I-70. There was an SUV upside down off the shoulder. Guess what state plates were on it?

Personalized California plates.

************

I hate to stereotype having been hit by that brush myself a few times...but the direct observations can't be denied. Quite a few Cali drivers suck badly when they get behind the wheel. And if road conditions are anything but bone dry pavement situational awareness is definitely in order.

The info on contributing to the JRS is appreciated too, thank you.
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Burning Since: 2002
Camp Name: Sanctuary West

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