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Old 11-20-2007, 01:06 AM   #1
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U.S. driver competency

Check this story out:

911 tape leads to driver's acquittal
A Prior Lake woman was absolved of a careless driving charge in the collision death of a motorcyclist after her brakes failed.

By Emily Johns, Star Tribune

Last update: November 20, 2007 – 12:08 AM

Kathleen Racine of Prior Lake pleaded with the 911 dispatcher.
"My brake's stuck, I can't stop the car," she said at the beginning of the 8½-minute call that ended with her flying into a Lakeville intersection and killing the city's street superintendent, who was on a motorcycle with his wife.

"Oh, I'm going towards it -- oh, no. Now I'm going 20 miles an hour -- now I'm going 25 -- oh, no!" she yelled, as the conversation got more intense. "I can't stop ... . My God! My God! My God!"

On Wednesday, a Dakota County judge acquitted Racine of a misdemeanor charge of careless driving, more than two years after her car ran a red light at the intersection of Kenwood Trail and 185th Street in Dakota County and killed Rodney Rippentrop, riding the motorcycle with his wife, Katherine.

"The 911 call is the whole story," said Racine's attorney, John Brink. "That's it, beginning to end."

On Sept. 10, 2005, Racine was driving west on Eagle Creek Road in Prior Lake. After a few minutes, she noticed she was unable to stop her car no matter how hard she pressed on the brakes. An inspection of the car later showed a pebble had caused the throttle to stick open.

What followed was a harrowing conversation with a Scott County dispatcher as Racine tried to use the parking brake -- and even put her car in neutral -- to no avail. The court record indicates the brakes on the car likely overheated to the point that they could no longer stop the vehicle.

She suffered a broken ankle in the crash, likely from pressing so hard on the brakes.

For Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, the case was worth prosecuting because Racine "had almost 10 minutes to get her car off of the road ... without causing any significant injuries."

Backstrom referred to the 911 call, when the dispatcher asked Racine what would happen if she turned her car off, and suggested that she drive off the road.

"It's a tragic situation," Backstrom said. "I can understand how the defendant was frightened and scared -- anybody would be. But the simple fact of the matter is, when you get behind the wheel of a car you have to be able to respond to emergencies."

In her ruling, Dakota County District Judge Patrice Sutherland said there were telephone poles, metal signs, trees, ditches, steep inclines and houses lining the side of the road, and that it was "impossible for Racine to leave the roadway with any chance of survival by the time the dispatcher suggested that option."

Brink said that Racine was elated with her acquittal.

"She is heartbroken" over the accident, he said. "This has been a terrible stress, she is very, very happy" about the verdict.

Emily Johns • 612-673-7460

Emily Johns • ejohns@startribune.com

© 2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
************************************************** ****
A couple things came to mind:

ALMOST TEN MINUTES and it occurs to no one- driver or dispatcher- to SHUT THE DAMN IGNITION OFF until it's too late?!??? I'd have had the engine off and the vehicle pulled to the side before the brakes had a chance to get warm.

The driver said "her brakes stuck" but it was the throttle that was stuck!!!!!!!!! Now class, who knows the difference between the throttle and the brakes????

What kind of person has the presence of mind to dig for a phone, dial a number, and start yapping in the middle of losing control of the vehicle they are "operating"?????????? A clueless, hysterical person that is not mentally equipped to operate a vehicle, that's what kind.

Why would putting the car in neutral not work- faded brakes or not??? If ya can't hit the ditch, ya can't. But she could have taken the acceleration away, put the 4-way flashers on, and laid on the horn as she blasted through the intersection.

Me thinks the dispatcher doesn't know how to drive. And the judge doesn't know how to drive either.

I hope she lost her license although there is no mention of it. Can't see how she earned one in the first place. She was 50 years old at the time- no mention of any handicaps.
************************************************** ****

OK so I think she's too dumb to live (gawd i hope she didn't have 9 kids).

Moving on, are we satisfied with our system and level of driver's training?
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Old 11-20-2007, 01:24 AM   #2
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theclencher -

My POV has always been if I lose my brakes, I can pop it in reverse. Destroy the car to save my life and others. Wouldn't that work?!?!?!?!

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Old 11-20-2007, 01:26 AM   #3
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Never have been happy with it. Any idiot can get a license with the most basic low speed maneuvers, even after failing those maneuvers several times

If she had a stick shift she could have stopped.
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Old 11-20-2007, 01:53 AM   #4
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theclencher -

My POV has always been if I lose my brakes, I can pop it in reverse. Destroy the car to save my life and others. Wouldn't that work?!?!?!?!

CarloSW2
Hmmm... That might be pretty dangerous too, since it could just slide all over the place. I think the best thing to do would be to kill it then turn the ign back on while manually downshifting the auto if ya have the room. Course, iono about newer cars, they may have some new fangled "safety" feature that prevents this, but I know the camry can do it and yer staurn will probably too.

OT, it's beyond me how the parking brake could fail unless they ain't mechanical any more. Anyway, just hit a pole. It ain't gonna do much at 20mph. I think she coulda hit a pole backwards in a pinto at that speed and survived. Around my grandparent's place they have rich rich kids wrapping their fancy new sports cars around poles at ~50-100mph every half year or so, and some of 'em even live!
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Old 11-20-2007, 02:49 AM   #5
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i have personally stood on brakes long and hard enough for them to fade- it's a good descriptive word, because when they get hot enough you can stand on 'em for all your worth and they don't do much of anything. as long as the parking brake shares shoes/pads/drum/disc with the service brakes it will be just as useless under fade. i know there are some vehicles with separate parking brake systems that would have remained functional, or maybe, just a little less dysfunctional.

also, throwing a a/t into reverse at speed will, at most, chirp the tires, kill the engine, and stop the car- pretty sure no sliding around unless you are on ice. and for some reason it won't want to start again for a while. trust me, that's what happens.

a person could also throw it into park, it'll make a NASTY racheting sound but, if not done too often or for too long, i don't think results in any damage. hell, she could have grabbed that shifter and done damn near anything with it and it would have been better than doing nothing. there is also the possibility that FLOORING the gas might have dislodged the pebble and brought the car back to normal!

what i find so astonishing about this whole episode is this moron not thinking to shut the engine down even after it was FINALLY suggested! no, wait, what's even more astonishing is grabbing a phone and calling someone about it!!! NO! WAIT! the most astonishing thing is this played out over 8 1/2 minutes!!! it's like, she's this helpless victim being dominated over by this big strong-willed car. pul-leeze!!! and the dispatcher, good god, she's (i assume it's a she) supposed to have training... right?, and is supposed to be calm and rational. i'd like to see a transcript of the 911 call or listen to it, but it sounds like neither one of them had their wits about them. then when she's about to nail the bike, umm, i guess the steering didn't work anymore either???
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Old 11-20-2007, 03:03 AM   #6
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also, throwing a a/t into reverse at speed will, at most, chirp the tires, kill the engine, and stop the car- pretty sure no sliding around unless you are on ice. and for some reason it won't want to start again for a while. trust me, that's what happens.
What what what? I was under the impression that at a significant speed (not 20mph), locking the wheels would make the car slide around. I mean, if it's slow enough, like ya said it'll squeek and stop, but I don't think it'll be that controlled at 50+mph.
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Old 11-20-2007, 03:05 AM   #7
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ok i don't know about 50+, shirly sumone does?

but, throwing it into r doesn't "lock" the wheels, they'll still turn
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Old 11-20-2007, 05:20 AM   #8
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Doesn't the chirping mean they locked. I found a thread where a buncha people claimed to have done it at high speed for a moment to an "drift". I thinking it don't locks up all the wheels just the drive wheel, so I suppose how dangerous it is depends on the driver.
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Old 11-20-2007, 05:43 AM   #9
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Key thing is she had 10 minutes. I would have given her the death penalty. At least.
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Old 11-20-2007, 07:36 AM   #10
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Too bad there weren't any good samaritans to shoot 50 holes in her car and disable it. Mehbe I'll starting packing!
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