oops…i seem to have forgotten my spike strips in the road by accident.

This just seems like a bad idea all around:

Durham, NC neighborhood threatens speed limit enforcement with paintball guns.

While I can sympathize with the parents living in that neighborhood (and trust me, my inner teenager is bouncing up and down with glee at the thought of hosing down some 60-in-a-25-speeder’s Mustang with .68-caliber Day-Glo orange paintballs on full auto), shooting any kind of projectile from any sort of gun at a moving vehicle is a felony in many (most? all?) jurisdictions.  I wouldn’t be too eager to risk losing essential rights and wearing the Scarlet F for the rest of my life just to teach some punk kid a lesson.  Besides, young egos being what they are, chances are that at some point, some wannabe suburban thug would take offense at having his riced-out 1992 Celica remotely repainted, and return the favor by doing a drive-by on the house in question with a real gun.

Sadly, in most cases where the residents complain about speeders, not much happens until some kid’s Radio Flyer ends up as a hood ornament on a rice rocket.  Yeah, kids will be kids (and Odin knows I’ve done my share of Stupid Car Tricks when I was newly licensed), and I’d hate to morph into Suburban Attack Dad, yelling at cars that go 2MPH above the limit past my lawn…but I also know how small our front lawn in Tennessee was, and how fast the kid from down the road usually flew by on his way out.  All it takes is one moment of parental distraction, and one short preschooler sprint later, you end up with one kid dead, and another in jail.

Anyone have any anecdotes about (or creative ideas for dealing with) people who think the suburban cul-de-sac is their personal NASCAR speedway?


34 thoughts on “oops…i seem to have forgotten my spike strips in the road by accident.

  1. Tim D says:

    I grew up on a residential street that was often used as a drag strip (parallel to the tracks, and 5 blocks long into a cul de sac) Knuckleheads would hit over 100mph as they sped past. One of the neighbors down the block took offense to a regular offender in a bitchin’ Camaro, and waited behind a parked car. As the Camaro was gearing up for his nightly run, our neighbor shoved a tricycle out into the path of the car, prompting a tire-smoking screeching skid. The neighbor then yanked the tricycle out of the path of the car with the rope he had attached to it, shook his finger at the driver and walked away. That only cured one driver, I am not sure how you would fix all of them… maybe dig a few large potholes in front of your house.

  2. Reuben says:

    These fake pothole overlays might help once –


    I’m not sure if they exist but it’s an interesting idea.

    Road humps and speed bumps are always brought up but in my experience as a traffic engineer the neighborhood typically regrets having them installed after about a year of driving over them each day.

    Reducing forward visibility with vegetation and other features tends to calm traffic as well.

    Paintballs sounds like the most fun.

  3. Grant says:

    I suppose a fougasse is out…

    -=[ Grant ]=-

  4. Jeffro says:

    Water balloons + velocity + windshield = mess.

    Don’t ask.

  5. RevolverRob says:

    Throwing anything at a car or shooting anything at a car, is just begging for an accident.

    My suggestion? Educate.

    In Finland, kids start at 15 and spend three years learning to drive, including a test on a skid pad for car control. That sounds like a damn good idea to me, teach folks to drive and we would probably have less issues.

    Then again, this is America, why educate when we can paintball.


  6. scotaku says:

    Crikey. I spent years (post-formative) in Durham, NC. I am not in the least bit surprised by this tactic. Good chunks of the city are darn near rural, at least in resident mindset, and they’re just not going to take things sitting down.

    I don’t know that I condone it, but I sure as hell understand it.

    And if I remember Johnny Law down there, most of ’em probably think it’s a right good idea, though you wouldn’t want to get caught in the act.

  7. perlhaqr says:

    Reuben: complicated as all hell, but variable speed bumps wired to a radar unit. Put a xenon detector on it so the ambulance can still go code three, but if doing 25 got you a smooth ride, 30 got you a little bump, and 35 got you the equivalent of driving over a railroad tie, I think people would do something close to the posted limit.

    Yeah, I’m an engineer, I can see a million ways it could go wrong or be hacked, too, but, it’s kind of a neat idea, I think.

  8. Ritchie says:

    Sometimes old folk will space out and leave their pieces of 2×4 that are color matched to the pavement, on the pavement. After a while, they recover some of their recollection and go recover their lumber, or just decide it’s too much bother.

  9. Glamdring says:

    Read a good book think it was “Traffic” that dealt with accidents & prevention.
    What I learned is changing drivers perception works. If you made road narrower and brought oncoming cars & peds closer drivers slow down.
    Think walking on tightrope vs wide path.
    Very counter to what I thought would work but seems to fit my real world observations.

  10. planetcaveman says:

    We need to bring back Puritan humiliation, if you make the downside of driving like an idiot too great than people will think twice about doing it.

    Make idiot drivers wear hot pink jumpsuits while picking up trash or in the pillary and you’d probably see less of it.

  11. paulcr39 says:

    After the twins started walking (at 9 & 10 months respectively) I had the pleasure of “speaking” with the A-hole of the neighborhood, Mr Smarty Pants Know It All, regarding his using the entrance to the cul de sac as his private launching pad. Follow the many tire marks in the street and they point directly at his hovel… you get the picture. After numerous complaints to the local gendarmerie went unfulfilled I let Mr SPKIA know that the first time he sped past the twins I would be looking to place one of the many bricks from my driveway or landscaping projects through his window. I also let him know if he happened to be driving at the time that that would surely be a shame. Bluster and blather ensued, but I calmly restated my promise. It is 4 months later and no more launching pad.

  12. El Capitan says:

    Quite a few of the local residential streets that connect a subdivision to main thoroughfares on either end have installed chicanes on the street and mini-roundabouts at the internal intersections in an effort to slow down the speedsters looking to make a shortcut through the neighborhood.

    The chicanes are not so bad, but trying to wrestle a full-size 4×4 pickup around the mini-traffic circles to make a left hand turn (without clipping curbs) is a major PITA.

    I’ve actually had idiots try to pass me on a two-lane residential street doing 50+ mph during the morning school hours, when all the local kids are walking to the 3 schools by the house. I’ve had no qualms at all about pulling to a stop with the truck angled across the road to block them, and getting out to tell them I’d be happy to swerve & stomp my brakes and let ’em find out what their airbag tastes like.

  13. MarkHB says:

    I really, really like Tim D’s neighbour’s solution – especially the fact that it hammers home the most likely rider of said trike.

  14. Samsam says:

    I hate deer that eat the landscaping.
    I hate loud cars roaring past late at night.
    Deer are easily spooked.

    Fortunately I’m now old enough to resist actually doing this.


  15. ArkieRN says:

    Petition the city to put speed bumps in the road. Have the neighbors raise the money if cost is an issue. It would be worth it to keep the kids safe.

  16. Stretch says:

    Street I grew up on had a drive-in diner at one end and a merge with major road at other. Gave the leadfoots 4 1/2 blocks of drag strip. Ran wide masking tape from curb to curb. Unusual sight visible from at least a block away slowed EVERYONE down. County PD showed up, looked at tape and results and drove away. Cheap, simple and effective. Give it a try.

  17. Jake says:

    several times in my life I have witnessed someone doing in excess of 80-90mph, cheerfully blowing through stop sign after stop sign, and have wished that I had a tricycle I could’ve gently rolled into their path so they could swerve and become new best friends with an inconveniently located tree.

  18. Bruce H. says:

    The tricycle would probably work even better with a kid size dummy in the driver’s seat.

  19. Matt says:

    Kid size dummy with tape recorder playing “Waaaaah” sounds… a la Shoot’em up.

    “That is just .. Nasty!”

  20. Vaarok says:

    Leaking manure spreader.

  21. Ritchie says:

    1. Game cam
    2. BookFacePlace

  22. Windy Wilson says:

    I’m with Ritchie on this. As emotionally satisfying as paintball would be, it would without a doubt be a crime in itself. If you want to be out there and do something, I suggest videotaping the cars. That will definitely torque the speeders and you may still get the confrontation, but the speeder would not be the victim with the evidence spattered on his car.

  23. williamthecoroner says:

    I read somewhere of a persons’ mum who put four or five bags of hot-top on the road in front of the house in the middle of the night. Instant speed-bump. The city had to resurface the road, and kept a cruiser there more often. Whether to control the speeders or stop it from happenning again, I don’t know.

  24. Well…no one speeds past our house more than once since we have a marked Patrol car parked there. 🙂 Benefits of being married to a copper. And he is not afraid to confront neighbors who ignore this obvious police presence…he’s visited neighbors while off duty to inform them of his displeasure with their driving habits. I wouldn’t mess with him.

    I would HATE to have speed bumps put in…they are painful to drive over while pregnant.

    I do think that education is important. With young kids in the neighborhood, and quite a few older folks who like to walk, speeding is just not acceptable or safe.

  25. Blackwing1 says:

    The City of Minneapolis has worked out a perfect plan:

    Simply don’t put any of the tax dollars into street repair.

    When you’ve got potholes so big that you can lose an SUV in them, speeding down the residential streets becomes an invitation for repetitive front-end alignments, if not the replacement of busted axles.

    On a slightly more serious note, I have to second the many suggestions for speed bump/humps. Our block group looked into it, but we’d have had to cough up the city fee to have it (and the necessary warning signs, primarily for the snowplow drivers) installed, and it was prohibitive.

  26. og says:

    Old idea. And, I think, a good one, as it’s mine (as far as my research can show me)


  27. Jay G. says:

    [JayG Fantasy solution] Claymores. It’s the only way to be sure.

    [JayG Reality solution] Video camera + YouTube account + police department e-mail = no more speeder.

    And if they stop to confront me, they’d best be able to outrun lead.

  28. Lokidude says:

    Jay, a wise man once said “.45’s quicker than 409…”

  29. Not a suburban speeding anecdote but here goes: This morning around 4:00 AM, the usual car alarm goes off in the neighborhood. The horn just keeps honking. I get up and look out the front door not a creature is stirring just the horn and blinking parking lights I go back to bed and try to get back to sleep.

    5-10 minutes later we hear a loud whoosh sound followed buy a louder Whooooof. “WTF was that?” Then….FA-WOOOOOOMPH! I get back up and take a look out the door and the car is fully engulfed in flames.

    An hour and a half later I’m on my second cup of coffee typing this. Out curbside, the fire trucks are gone now, but the yellow tape is everywhere and I’m wondering if the investigators will mind my dog going out for his morning pee.

  30. Turns out it was a hit and run rear end collision collision that set off the alarm did something bad to the gas tank. Here I thought one of our neighbors finally had enough of that damn alarm.

    Karma? Justice? You decide.

  31. Gerry N. says:

    Snot nosed kid with a shiny new crotch rocket sped past my cul-de-sac every morning on his way to school. He had to be doing at least 60. I borrowed the neighbor’s video cam and filmed him with the date-time thingy on. Then after he passed the house, I took the tape to his house, got his folks out of bed to look at it, pointed out that this was a daily occurance and asked if they had insurance enough to cover it if “Speedly Demonsen” killed someone, or simply missed the turn and slid into my house and killed himself. Now he walks to school. Dad sold the crotch rocket.

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