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Would-be carjackers foiled by mysteries of the stick shift

By zzyzzx   2013 Jan 29, 7:32am   3,994 views   34 comments   watch (1)   quote      

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/carjackers-foiled-mysteries-stick-shift-215110818.html

An attempted stick up was confounded by a car’s stick shift, when a would-be carjackers failed to understand the mechanics behind a manual transmission.

Randolph Bean tells WOFL FOX 35 that two men attempted to steal his 2002 yellow Corvette at gunpoint outside an Orlando hospital, but ended up running away after they couldn’t figure out how to drive his car.

"They apparently couldn't start it,” Bean 51, is quoted as saying in a police report. “I had to tell him four different times to push in the clutch, because it's a standard transmission."

After several failed attempts, the thieves eventually fled the scene.

Comments 1-34 of 34     Last »

1   RealEstateIsBetterThanStocks   2013 Jan 29, 7:56am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

my car is stick shift. i have eliminated AT LEAST 50% chance of having my car stolen. can't seem to convince my stupid Mercury Agent to give me a discount on this, however.

2   zzyzzx   2013 Jan 29, 10:53pm     ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike   quote    

I drive a beat up 1995 Ford Escort. I don't have to worry about it being stolen.

3   swebb   2013 Jan 29, 11:25pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

zzyzzx says

I drive a beat up 1995 Ford Escort. I don't have to worry about it being stolen.

I'm all for driving cars until they won't go, but once we had kids I started looking into the safety factor...There were a lot of advances made in the 90s and early 2000s that I consider "must haves"...so we got rid of our 80s beaters and now have something much newer. 2005 is the approximate cut-off for "the good stuff", but it depends on the specific make/model.

As for the manual trans, that's what we drive...but the choice is not as clear cut as it was 20 years ago. Automatics have become much more reliable (long lived), for one. With more gear ratios (and lockup torque converters) they now get comparable (or often better) fuel economy. I have been a die-hard manual trans guy for a while...but I'm not sure my reasons are as valid as they once were...I sort of feel like I'm arguing in favor of a carburetor over FI or something.

4   zzyzzx   2013 Jan 30, 3:12am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

swebb says

There were a lot of advances made in the 90s and early 2000s

I don't need no stinkin' dozen air bags!

5   edvard2   2013 Jan 30, 3:18am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

Its amazing just how many people don't know how to drive manual. That's all I've ever owned and yet I'd say 90% of the friends I have don't know how to drive one.

6   edvard2   2013 Jan 30, 3:21am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

swebb says

I'm all for driving cars until they won't go, but once we had kids I started looking into the safety factor...There were a lot of advances made in the 90s and early 2000s that I consider "must haves"

I dunno... Somehow as a child of the early 80's we managed to survive even though our cars didn't have airbags and whatnot. Both of my vehicles are close to 20 years old and I'd have no problem with kids riding in them. That said, I dont have any so maybe I'd change my mind.

If I was to suddenly feel that I had to buy a "safer" car, I'd probably buy some big American car from the early 2000's-2005 or so. Back then they lost their value so fast you could buy a fully loaded, low mileage one for next to nothing.

7   Peter P   2013 Jan 30, 4:20am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

swebb says

2005 is the approximate cut-off for "the good stuff", but it depends on the specific make/model.

No longer. More newer cars have radar/camera-based collision-avoidance systems with full auto-braking. It can be a life-saving feature.

Also, I believe all cars should be required to have run-flat tires, tire-pressure monitoring systems, and back-up cameras.

8   Peter P   2013 Jan 30, 4:23am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

edvard2 says

Somehow as a child of the early 80's we managed to survive even though our cars didn't have airbags and whatnot.

Survivorship bias?

9   TechGromit   2013 Jan 30, 4:30am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

zzyzzx says

. “I had to tell him four different times to push in the clutch, because it's a standard transmission."

Now that's a helpful victim, teaching there robber how to steal there car. I should email him, perhaps he will give me his account and password to his online bank accounts.

10   TechGromit   2013 Jan 30, 4:34am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

edvard2 says

Its amazing just how many people don't know how to drive manual. That's all I've ever owned and yet I'd say 90% of the friends I have don't know how to drive one.

I wanted to buy a manual for my next car, but my wife will not let me, she can't drive a stick shift. Can't even rent a car anymore with manual transmission, I tried when I have to travel for two the last few years.

Actually the oppose it true in Europe, finding a car with an automatic is very difficult, most cars have manual transmissions.

11   swebb   2013 Jan 30, 4:36am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

edvard2 says

I dunno... Somehow as a child of the early 80's we managed to survive even though our cars didn't have airbags and whatnot

How many serious accidents did you get in during your childhood?

It's not for driving around that I want the safety features, it's the rare event that you get into an accident when they become helpful. Hopefully that's never, but in the case that I need them...I want them.

How much do you spend on tires?

12   Peter P   2013 Jan 30, 4:39am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

New technologies actually help you avoid accidents. Active safety is every bit as important as crash safety.

13   bob2356   2013 Jan 30, 4:42am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Peter P says

No longer. More newer cars have radar/camera-based collision-avoidance systems with full auto-braking. It can be a life-saving feature.

Nice in theory, but what happens in real life is people drive dumber thinking they can't get into trouble. Look at what happened with anti lock brakes. Everyone thought that you could drive much harder especially in ice and snow. Nothing can save your life if you try hard enough.

14   Peter P   2013 Jan 30, 4:46am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

bob2356 says

Nice in theory, but what happens in real life is people drive dumber thinking they can't get into trouble.

http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr070312.html

Of course, technology works only as an aid. Reliance on it tends to backfire.

15   Vicente   2013 Jan 30, 4:59am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

The efficiency gap between auto and manual used to be large, that was the only reason most people drove a stick. Wannabe racers are a small group.

Nowadays it hardly matters.

16   Peter P   2013 Jan 30, 5:04am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

I am sure auto is now way more efficient than stick, esp in the hads of the general public.

17   swebb   2013 Jan 30, 6:03am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

ABS - a must, in my opinion. Just a month ago ABS was the difference between me stopping in time, and hitting a guy on a scooter -- his fault, but my ABS saved his ass. (most likely)

Airbags. They do matter, and I now consider a car with side curtain airbags a must.

Stability control / Vehicle dynamics control. I think this one was labelled by the IIHS as the most important safety advancement since seat belts...My next car will have VDC.

Sure additional safety features may make some people drive less safely, but the reality is that they make a big difference in avoiding accidents. ABS does things that no human can do -- applying braking pressure independently to different wheels, for example, and doing this 15 times per second (or more).

Don't fool yourselves into believing that safety features somehow don't matter -- they absolutely do. You are certainly free to make whatever decision you want, but I don't think you are being honest with yourself if you say they don't matter.

Spend the $ on good tires, too.

18   Peter P   2013 Jan 30, 6:09am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Side curtain is an absolute must.

19   Peter P   2013 Jan 30, 6:12am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Gentlemen prefer low rpm. :-)

20   bob2356   2013 Jan 30, 9:59am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Peter P says

Of course, technology works only as an aid. Reliance on it tends to backfire.

IIHS is an industry shill organization totally funded by the auto insurance companies. Their objectivity is considerably less than zero. There are much more objective sources out there that you should be reading.

If the new safety systems make you feel better then fine, go for it. They couldn't hurt if you don't change your driving. I prefer to drive being very alert and very defensive along with practicing vehicle control frequently. It's worked for over 1 million miles accident free so far.

How do you know abs kept you from hitting someone? ABS doesn't allow you to stop faster, in most circumstances activating abs takes longer to stop than hard braking. In gravel and loose snow it can be a lot longer. The purpose of abs is that you don't lock the wheels and can continue to steer, not to reduce braking distance. Most people don't have a clue how to use abs and several studies have shown that cars with abs don't have any less accidents or less severe accidents than the exact same model without it. Insurance companies have dropped rate reductions for abs, which says a lot about how much they think abs has reduced accidents.

I'd like to see studies on stability control. There are lots of articles about how they "could" reduce accidents, but none about how they "have" reduced accidents. VDC certainly aren't going to help people driving 80mph on glare ice. VDC can only react to a yaw condition, not anticipate one. I think that like abs people will drive more recklessly because they have VDC without any understanding at all of how it works or the limits of what VDC can do. VDC could actually end up increasing accidents.

Safety features CAN matter, but many people are such bad drivers that they won't matter. Buying great tires will matter more.

I prefer high rpm as frequently as possible preferably on winding roads. Mercedes are for people who need to drive, BMW is for people who want to drive.

21   swebb   2013 Jan 30, 10:34am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

bob2356 says

IIHS is an industry shill organization totally funded by the auto insurance companies.

What about the IIHS do you find problematic? I think my interests and their interests are pretty aligned -- am I missing something?

bob2356 says

I prefer to drive being very alert and very defensive along with practicing vehicle control frequently. It's worked for over 1 million miles accident free so far.

You would be better off with a modern car with modern safety features. I'm sure your deliberate driving is a big par of why you haven't had an accident in 1 million miles, but if you think it's all under your control you are fooling yourself -- unless you always drive at 25 MPH or less...

This article notes that highway fatalities have hit a low point (lowest since 1949), and they attribute at lest some of the decline to technology advancements.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/10/15820298-highway-deaths-hit-six-decade-low-government-data-show?lite

bob2356 says

How do you know abs kept you from hitting someone? ABS doesn't allow you to stop faster, in most circumstances activating abs takes longer to stop than hard braking. In gravel and loose snow it can be a lot longer.

I can't know for sure, but I have a sense of how quickly I can brake without the ABS kicking in, and it seemed like I stopped a lot faster. I don't think you are right that ABS not reducing braking distances in typical situations (gravel and, I guess snow excepted). Most people aren't skilled performance drivers, and they are going to lock their wheels or not apply enough pressure...Also, ABS operates independently on each wheel -- something I can't do.

Here is an interesting thread discussing the ABS vs non-ABS question:

http://www.ffcars.coms/35-autocrossing-prosolo/215536-abs-vs-non-abs-stopping-distance-question.html

I think the point about how ABS and non-ABS are equivalent if you don't lock up the brakes is a good one. Get ABS, but use your superior skills to avoid engaging it...nothing lost. If you happen to need it, it's there for you.

Your comment about VDC and people driving 80 MPH on glare ice is...ridiculous.

VDC isn't magic, but it's an important safety advancement.

I generally reject your assertion that gains in safety are offset by the resulting change in driving habits. This graph tells a different story:

http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2011/04/us-traffic-deaths-lowest-since-1949.html

Clearly you can't attribute the decline solely to safety improvements, but traffic fatalities have declined significantly in the past 50 years...something is going on, there.

Why is it that buying great tires will make an improvement in safety, but the other safety features won't? By your logic I will drive more dangerously after buying high performance tires, no?

22   zzyzzx   2013 Jan 30, 10:47pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Peter P says

Side curtain is an absolute must.

People drove for over a hundred years without them, and all of a sudden, it's a absolute must???

23   zzyzzx   2013 Jan 30, 10:50pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Vicente says

The efficiency gap between auto and manual used to be large, that was the only reason most people drove a stick. Wannabe racers are a small group.

Nowadays it hardly matters.

Actually modern automatics are more fuel efficient.

24   elliemae   2013 Jan 30, 11:24pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

swebb says

How much do you spend on tires?

So, it looked like my front tires were fairly bald and my rear tires were just fine (yes, I do rotate them... next question please!) I bought them about a month apart, but at separate tire stores. I haven't a clue why.

I toddled on in to Discount Tires and (of course!) it turned out that the front tires I bought in Utah were 40k warranty, the ones in NV were 65k warranty. And the 40's were nearly dead - I had 39,500 miles on them. I could see $250 in my future...

But one of the front tires was separating, and so they replaced it for free. Ellie's jewish heart was pleased!!!!

25   elliemae   2013 Jan 30, 11:30pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

p.s. this is the second "automatic" car I've ever had and it's pretty awesome, but I still don't like it in the snow. I just don't feel like i'm in control.

26   edvard2   2013 Jan 31, 12:07am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

swebb says

It's not for driving around that I want the safety features, it's the rare event that you get into an accident when they become helpful. Hopefully that's never, but in the case that I need them...I want them.

How much do you spend on tires

Admittedly, never. But To me just because a car has more safety features doesn't necessarily mean its "safer". I am under the impression that with increased safety features comes more complacency. People are now more likely to be under a sense of more security, which can also mean they drive more recklessly.

Let me mention a few semi-related ancedotal observations. For example, I own a mid-50's classic family sedan. Granted I only drive it around town, but I am extremely aware that this car lacks shoulder belts, an adequate safety cage, no crumple zones, no air bags, a solid steel, unforgiving frame, and an all-metal dash. As such my sense of awareness and caution is heightened whenever I drive it for I know that any accident in this car would be a lot worse than anything modern. So with that comes safer driving habits, which afterall is the biggest "safety feature" one could possess.

Another example: Lawn mowers. Back in the "Good ole' days" many mowers actually had exposed blades. We're talking about sharp pieces of exposed steel spinning at 1,000's of revolutions per minute. Starting decades ago new safety regulations required that all mowers had to have an engine brake, fully enclosed blades, and safety chutes, etc. But still there are well over 200,000 mower related injuries per year. Mowers more or less look like ordinary household appliances. My theory is that people don't see the danger that lurks underneath and hence don't have the level of respect and care they should when operating what is still a fairly dangerous device capable of great injury.

So while I'm not going to fault anyone for buying a safer car for the sake of their children, I think that there's more to safety beyond actual safety devices. Its also the person behind the wheel and perhaps there is something to what I have mentioned.

27   swebb   2013 Jan 31, 2:41am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

zzyzzx says

People drove for over a hundred years without them, and all of a sudden, it's a absolute must???

People drove for 50 years without seatbelts...Would you buy a car without seatbelts?

What about a car with cable operated drum brakes?

28   zzyzzx   2013 Jan 31, 2:58am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

elliemae says

p.s. this is the second "automatic" car I've ever had and it's pretty awesome, but I still don't like it in the snow. I just don't feel like i'm in control.

That's what the lower gear selectors are for.

29   zzyzzx   2013 Jan 31, 2:59am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

swebb says

People drove for 50 years without seatbelts...Would you buy a car without seatbelts?

What about a car with cable operated drum brakes?

Comparing redundant safety features to having no safety feature is not a valid comparison.

And yes one of my cars does have a cable operated rear drum emergency brake (and BTW, there is nothing wrong with drum brakes in the back of a car either).

30   Dan8267   2013 Jan 31, 3:05am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

swebb says

ABS - a must, in my opinion. Just a month ago ABS was the difference between me stopping in time, and hitting a guy on a scooter -- his fault, but my ABS saved his ass. (most likely)

Anti-lock braking systems are great, but they do not decrease stopping distance or stopping times. In fact, ABS increase stopping distances. So it doesn't make sense that you stopped more quickly because of ABS.

What ABS does is trade off stopping distance for control of the vehicle. The vehicle takes longer to stop, but you can still steer and avoid objects and people.

The way ABS work is by applying and removing pressure on the breaks many times a second. This causes the breaks to require more time and distance to stop the car, but allows the car to continue to steer and the driver to control the car's direction.

31   bob2356   2013 Jan 31, 3:25am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

swebb says

his article notes that highway fatalities have hit a low point (lowest since 1949), and they attribute at lest some of the decline to technology advancements.

Yes, a lot of it is technology advancements. A lot is also improved roads and seat belt enforcement. But technology advancements and safety features aren't the same thing. Crumple zones, disc brakes, radial tires, safety glass, rack and pinion steering, padded dashboards, door beams, improved handling, better lights, the list goes on are all technology advancements that have added enormously to safety and the reduction in fatalities.

The problem I have with so called "safety features" like abs, air bags, vehicle control isn't that they don't help. They can help, but they are over hyped to people who have no clue how they work or the limits involved that are driving around saying "I'm safe, I can do anything". No one drives harder because they have a crumple zone or a beam in the door, many will when they have active control. I'm not saying active control won't help, but no one has any data that says it does help. Abs didn't make any difference overall that anyone can find. Look at your example, you want active control because of kids in the car. Why would you be looking to drive at the ragged edge of control, which is the only place active control is useful, with kids in the car? Contradictory.

Car manufacturers are in the business of selling cars, not safety. Safety features are frequently being driven by the marketing side to provide a selling point , not the engineering side. Others features like air bags are mandated by people who are more interested in political agenda's (read Ralph Nader/Joan Claybrook) than safety.

All in all I think most of these features are a wash. Some people will be helped, some hurt because of misplaced overconfidence. I would be much better off with a modern car, but I don't really believe the "safety features" make all that much difference.

If you don't believe people drive 80 on glare ice you've never driven on the NY thruway in the winter. I've driven in snowstorms where I've seen double semi's doing 70+ and people in SUV's pass me going fast enough to rock my car.

32   Quigley   2013 Jan 31, 3:42am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

In retrospect, automakers were extremely short sighted to only get on the safety train after 65 years of their products killing their customers pretty regularly. Instead they promoted the idea that accidents were the fault of the driver and good drivers wouldn't have to worry about such things.
This is a stupid idea that even now people continue to hold on to (hi Mr. Million miles).
The smart money is always on the driver being in an accident. If he/she is killed or seriously crippled in that accident, that's one less customer for their product. At a rate of incidence in the hundreds of thousands, that's a lotta Fords or Chevys or Toyotas that will never be bought if the occupants aren't still around to buy them. Think of safety as insurance on an asset. If he's ok, the newly car-less guy will be walking into the dealership the next day, ready to become a customer all over again. That's gold, baby, solid gold.

33   Peter P   2013 Jan 31, 4:37am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

zzyzzx says

People drove for over a hundred years without them, and all of a sudden, it's a absolute must???

People lived for over a thousand years without shoes...

34   Peter P   2013 Jan 31, 4:41am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

I support having a strictly enforced national 55 mph speed limit until cars can drive themselves.

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