Hooniverse Asks: What Was The Most Urgent Alert You've Ever Had To Give Another Driver?

When I’m out on the road I like to look at other cars. I don’t mean check out the cool ones, I mean I like to see which ones are running expired tags and who hasn’t checked the air pressure in their tires all that recently.
The former issue I let slide. I mean, what am I, a cop? The latter however does often times elicit from me the routine gaining the driver’s attention, pantomiming the rolling down the window, and then letting them know that I think their tire pressure maybe dangerously low on one of more of their corners. I get a good number of appreciative acknowledgements of my civic concern and an occasional mind your own business. That’s okay though, I know the latter ones aren’t long for this world.
Alerting other drivers to situations involving their car that might be outside of their awareness is a duty that we all share. After all, we’re all in this together! With that in mind, what’s the most dramatic alert you have ever had to bestow?
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22 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What Was The Most Urgent Alert You've Ever Had To Give Another Driver?”

  1. neight428 Avatar

    I was going at full Houston freeway speed behind a guy pulling a trailer loaded with a couple of ATV’s, the rearmost of which had become untethered and was bouncing around like a sumbitch. I was speeding up to catch him on his left and wave at him like a lunatic when it fell off before I got his attention. The horns of a thousand commuters clued him in at that point.

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    I don’t have a story of my own, but I know of a pretty good one.
    My parent’s neighbor, Martha, had a Suburban that was parked in a carport. Martha, living in a cozy ranch on some heavily wooded property in the country, had lots of outdoor cats, as you do. One of them, Gregory, was a monstrous grey tom who loved people, but due to a fierce fighting habit, had nearly no ears remaining and one eye that would only open part way. The nearest thing to Greebo in real life I’ve ever seen.
    Gregory liked to hang out on top of Martha’s Suburban while it was parked. Good vantage point for to plan his next assault on an unwary member of the local fauna, I’m guessing. I think you might be able to see where this is going, but how far it got is the fun part.
    Gregory had gotten into the habit of hanging onto the top of the Suburban through startup and backing out of the carport, but would always bail off the ‘burb before it left the property. On the day the inevitable happened, however, Gregory decided to hang on. Gregory hung on all the way down the road out of the neighborhood, a full mile of gravel. Gregory made it another 5 miles down the rural highway to the interstate onramp. Gregory hung on for 10 more miles at 70mph on the interstate before someone caught Martha’s attention, got her to roll down her window, and yelled “THERE’S A CAT ON YOUR ROOF.”
    Martha pulled over, coaxed the one-life-lighter Gregory into the Suburban, and headed home with him. Gregory lived at least another 10 years after that, but apparently never went near the suburban again.

  3. 0A5599 Avatar

    I was a passenger in a car driven by a friend who fell asleep behind the wheel and went off the interstate. The alert was to wake up.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      Scary. One night during college after a football game, I was riding shotgun with a group of friends driving between Lubbock and Midland. My guardian angel tapped me on the shoulder and I looked over just as the driver nodded off with his eyes closing and his head dipping down. I slowly grabbed the wheel with my left hand and nudged him awake with my elbow. We switched and I drove the rest of the way after that. We didn’t bother to tell the folks sound asleep in the back. I thanked God for my inability to sleep sitting upright and straight West Texas highways that night.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        I remember riding with a friend from Dallas to Houston on I-45 back in ’79, when we saw headlights coming toward us in the left lane (we were in a rural area, closer to Houston). This was about 1:00 in the morning. I said to my friend, “Hey Mike, you might want to move over, or get off on the right. We moved over, and the saw the guy pass us, now driving on the grass, in the median.
        Another time, I was behind an 18-wheeler on US 175, between Kaufman and Dallas, about 9:00 in the evening. This guy was all over the road (Sleepy? Speeded out? Who knows!), going off on the left and right side, and miraculously missing abutments under at least a couple of bridges/overpasses. I got on the cell and called 911, and started talking to a Kaufman Co. dispatcher. The guy finally exited the highway and turned off on a little county road. I think he had figured out that someone was onto him, but the dispatcher said, “Don’t worry, there’s a deputy coming up behind you, we know where that is, and we’ll get him.”

  4. P161911 Avatar

    Managed to alert one guy on the road that a loose ladder was flopping around on top of his work van.
    Used to work at a large manufacturing plant. Someone in the parking lot had an older Nissan SUV with some serious suspension/steering issues. It had gotten to the point that the one of the front wheels had about 30 degrees of camber. This led to the tire on the front passenger side wearing PAST the steel belts on about 1/4 of the tire. After several days of seeing this, I left a note on the car warning them that if they didn’t get it fixed, they were going to kill someone. Several days later, it was finally fixed.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      I saw one that must have lost the balancing weights (or perhaps never had any?) driving on the freeway, with the wheel nearly leaving the ground with every revolution! It was a front wheel too, so I can only imagine what the steering must have felt like.
      From the point of view of this post I didn’t think that anything would be gained by driving beside said wheel trying to talk to the driver in a much higher vehicle at speed, but that I was better off not being near it.

  5. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    I’ve been on the receiving end. I noticed in my mirror, the car behind me swerve (but fail) to avoid what appeared to be a bumper cover. I wondered how I failed to notice something of that size in my lane. The car that hit it was part of a 3 car caravan, and his cohorts successfully pulled me over a short distance later to inform me that I had lost my bumper. Neither the truck I was driving, nor the car on the trailer I was towing had bumper covers. I informed them of this, and walking around the trailer to show them is when I noticed the trailer I had borrowed was one fender lighter than it was when I loaded up. It wasn’t a plastic bumper he had hit, but a steel fender from a tandem axle trailer. I have my own trailer now. It does not have removable fenders.

  6. dukeisduke Avatar

    Urgent? I don’t know, but on several occasions I’ve had to stop and get out at lights, and run up to the vehicle in front of me and warn them they didn’t have any brake lights. Usually they’ll say thanks, and that they had no idea.
    I also stopped one time at a light and grabbed a carpet kicker that a guy left on the step bumper of his pickup (I’d followed him for a couple of miles), and handed it to him. I know there’s been other situations like that.

    1. JayP Avatar

      I’ve done that too- but I’m aware of the situation and being it’s Texas I’m trying not to get shot acting like a carjacker.
      I’ve rolled up beside cars at night which the only lights they have on are the DRLs, no tail lights.
      9 times out of 10 I’m ignored.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        Yeah, the concealed carry/open carry thing makes me a little more conscious now. And I don’t even bother with people driving with DRLs or no lights at night now – too many of them.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          From my experience with travelling in the US, there’s police on every second corner. How can driving without lights become so common in such an environment?

          1. bv911 Avatar

            “Never one around when you need it” is a common expression… Not trying to knock police by any means, but the one time my dead alternator left me stranded on the Turnpike late at night, pre-cellphone era, well, it proved true for me.

          2. econobiker Avatar

            We’re trying to save the car owner interaction with the police.

  7. mdharrell Avatar

    A few years ago I caught up with a guy towing a large fifth-wheel travel trailer on which one of the two tires on the left had gone flat. Well, more than flat, as the rubber was coming apart and smoke was roiling out of the wheel well. The driver didn’t seem to have noticed.
    We were on a twisty two-lane highway with few opportunities for safe passing (Route 38 in Oregon for those playing along at home) but I was familar with the road and knew a passing lane would be coming up soon. When we got there I pulled alongside of his pickup’s cab and tried getting his attention. No luck. I got in front of him and again tried waving, flashing my brake lights, honking my horn, and so forth. Still no response. He seemed to be making a point of avoiding eye contact.
    Once we were out of the passing lane I slowed down, still waving and pointing and tapping my brakes. He began tailgating. He couldn’t safely get around me, though, so we slowly came to a stop. He hopped out and started walking towards me, absolutely furious. I yelled that his trailer tire was on fire and drove off as soon as he turned around to see the smoke. I figured at that point it was entirely his problem.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      You reminded me that I was on the receiving end once more. Also trailer related, but a different car hauler than the one that lost a fender in my post above.
      When I first bought my car trailer, it had been sitting for a while. It was only 5 miles from my house, but the tires on it clearly weren’t up for an unladen 5 mile journey. A BMW driver flashed his lights, and I pulled onto the shoulder. He pulled up beside me to let me know that both left tires were basically shredded. I hadn’t noticed, so I thanked him for letting me know. I was less than a mile from home, so I just dragged it the rest of the way. Then I bought 4 new tires for my newly acquired trailer.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I was on the other end of such an exchange myself about a year ago when I used a U-Haul truck and trailer to bring my disassembled ’59 Skyliner from Oregon to Washington (again*). On I-5 just north of Eugene someone honked and waved to get my attention, then pointed urgently towards the trailer. I pulled onto the shoulder and found one of the tires on the trailer had shredded itself, so I stayed on the shoulder and drove slowly to the next offramp, then called U-Haul for repairs, since of course they don’t supply an onboard spare for their trailers.
        *Over the course of the last twenty-odd years I’ve towed that car, disassembled, from Oregon to Washington, to another location in Washington, then back to a different location in Oregon, then most recently to yet another location in Washington**.
        **Don’t buy someone else’s disassembled project. Just don’t.

  8. Sean McMillan Avatar
    Sean McMillan

    On the receiving end: riding home sunday night with my dad after a weekend at the lake, towing our boat (’61 Grady-White, a cool old boat). An hour from home, a car pulls up beside us, honking and pointing at the trailer. Bearing had gone bad, grease and smoke pouring out of it. Limped to the next exit, parked it in a grocery store parking lot, drove to the nearest open parts store, got replacement, back to the boat, replaced bearing and race with a few hand tools and some improvisation, finally back on the road 3 hours later and home by midnight.

  9. Texlenin Avatar

    1989.1st Ave, Garland Tx. 2ish in the afternoon.Lady pulled off a side street in a Chevy station wagon northbound-rear pass door swung open,and baby in plastic car seat flew out. I hit lights, horn and my loud mouth all at once-about the same time she figured it all out. 1995. Hwy 75 southbound between
    Howe and Van Alstyne. 7ish pm. Overran and stopped a 18 wheeler with a trailer fire.

  10. AlexG55 Avatar

    Have had to tell people in moving traffic that their boot (trunk) is open on several occasions. Including once someone in a 3-Series convertible, where the raised lid would have blocked all vision out of the rear windscreen…

  11. salguod Avatar

    Many years ago in a blinding snow storm on 696 in Detroit, I came up on a car hauler full of new 4th generation F bodies. The rear car on the top was a Firebird, nose down with its hatch wide open, gulping in snow. At every overpass I was convinced it was going to shear off that hatch, but it didn’t. Several other motorists were closer than I was and eventually got his attention to pull over.

  12. econobiker Avatar

    I hate the new cars that have lighted instrument panels and daytime running lights resulting in drivers (most often of rental cars) driving with vehicle lights off. They don’t know that the green headlight emblem means “lights on” in these new cars. Trying to get their attention makes them think of some gang initiation urban legend or similar…