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It's not my week. I was just leaving "Felt", a SoBe billiards establishment, after a few quick games w/ my friends, and was giving one of them a ride home. Jumped into my SUV, and threw it into reverse. Didn't bother looking behind me before getting in, even though I have 0 visibility, because I have a backup system that tells you the distance to the nearest object behind you.

So I'm backing up: beep. beep. beep. "Five feet." beep be-be-beep "Three feet" SMASH !!! Wait a second. What the f*ck happend to 2 feet and one foot ?! I didn't move 6" from the "Three feet" mark?! Crap, well what to do? I got out of my car and looked. ****. A Z3. And I hit it square in the center of the grill / hood. I had an M Coupe that suffered similar damage once, and it's a $2500 bill. F*cking $2500 fender bender @ 2 mph. God freaking damn it.

I thought of the Elise. I thought of the thread where we questioned how it would suck to get hit by a big fat SUV in a parallel parking situation. Well, tonight, I was that big fat SUV. I left a note and dropped my friend off. Then I came back to "the scene of the crime" to see if the owner had returned. They weren't there. I parked my SUV and walked back up to assess the damage. The owner was there. Cute girl. ****. I got nervous and walked away.

I got my SUV, thought about the situation, and decided to return. When I pulled up, her friends were there with her (two big, mean looking guys). I walked up to them and told them I was the one who hit them, and apologized. They were nice about it. She said she was waiting for the police to arrive. I told her I wanted to work it out without a police report or insurance, if possible. My record is looking pretty bad these days. Anyhow, she took my license and insurance info, and gave me her card (she's in real estate), and I left. She's going to call me tomorrow w/ a repair estimate.

I can't begin to describe how freaking pissed I am. Glitchy f*cking piece of **** backup system. WTF is it worth if it doesn't give accurate distances to the objects behind you!? I'm furious! I hate life right now. I could have bought a back-up camera system for $2500 installed and be even w/ what I'm at now. Only difference now is that I don't have **** to show for it. I hate losing hard-earned dollars like this. :( Sometimes doing the right thing sucks. But I can't stop thinking: "What if it was my elise?"
 

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Sucks that the thing that protected you, became the weak point.
 

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Damn, that definitely sucks. Don't know why your backup system failed to see the Z3. You did the right thing though. I'm not sure how many people out of 10 would have done what you did. I'm guessing it's 3 or 4. Anyway, hopefully the damage won't be as much as you say. keep us posted.
 

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Maybe you should get a vehicle you can see out of. Or maybe look behind the car before getting in it.

I would not trust any backup system to accurately detect an elise. You will most likely be seeing range to the windshield rather than to the bumper.
 

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My brother has a back-up sensor system in his Lexus LX470. It sucks fierce. I can't stand it. And I'm one of those people who hate taking erratic commands. If you're going to boss me around, be consistent about it, dammit! :p

The back-up camera is an absolute must in an SUV. The tailgates in most SUVs make it impossible to see behind it. When I had a SUV, I was always afraid I'm going to plow over a small child or animal.

Bob
 

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Sorry to hear about your accident, but accidents do happen. Don't beat yourself up. You did the right thing -- you can sleep at night! Most people don't have the integrity to take responsibility in a situation like that.

Those SUVs can be tough to drive. I test drove an Isuzu VehiCross a few years back. Awesome looking vehicle, but the absolute worst side- and rear-visibility of ANY vehicle I can imagine. Atrocious. I was afraid to back up, cause I couldn't see out the back, and there was no sensor to help. Heck, I was afraid to change lanes in that thing. I went a mile or 2, then drove right back to the dealer, and kissed the ground when I arrived.
 

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I have never driven an SUV, save to move a Honda CRV in and out of parking spaces on a few occasions. And I have driven a few big panel vans to move apartments and such. So I'm curious: Before you SUV owners jump inside the vehicle, do you check to see if other vehicles are behind you and what size they are? Or do you rely wholly on mirrors and back-up systems once inside the car?

And if you already know the small car is behind you, how exactly do you avoid hitting it in situations like Steve's? Is it all use of good judgement of spatial relationships with a little dash of "hoping for the best"?

To be honest, I don't even know how *I* judge the proximity of cars behind me in my E36. But I've never damaged one in a parrall parking situation. I guess it's simply a matter of checking mirrors, but I'm going to start monitoring this...

And before I get the Elise, I'm going to get some friends -- one with a Miata, and one with an Explorer-- into the parking lot at work so I can learn firsthand what each vehicle is up against in these type of visibility situations.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Jon,

You raise a good point. This is my first SUV ever, and I just got it. I had a Ford F150 for 5 months, but I barely drove it. The rest of my cars have had excellent visibility. I'm certain that has much to do with what happened... I'm not in the habit of checking behind me first. Anyhow, I just spoke to the owner of the Z3... the cost to repair is $1650. Better than I expected. Expensive lesson, nonethelss.
 

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I can tell you that in my '02 Explorer that the visibility really wasn't that bad. The mirrors really gave you a good picture of what's behind you. I never had a problem backing it up anywhere, especially as it had a relatively small turning radius.
In the F550 dump truck I drive occasionally you have to make a quick note of what is immediately behind you as you climb (and you do climb) into the cab. All you've got are the side mirrors, but you do learn to judge distance pretty well (or at least I have). I used to have a hard time getting anywhere because I was afraid of backing into something, but like any other vehicle, it gets much easier when you figure out where the edges are.
The only time I've ever backed into something was in the driveway of my parents' house. I backed my tiny Eagle Summit hatchback into my brother's minivan. I never looked behind me and learned a valuable lesson the hard (and expensive) way.:(
 

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transio said:
I can't begin to describe how freaking pissed I am. Glitchy f*cking piece of **** backup system. WTF is it worth if it doesn't give accurate distances to the objects behind you!? I'm furious!
It's your own damn fault, you should learn good driving habits rather than counting on the technology in the car to coddle you! It's there to supplement your senses, not replace them.

Still, thanks for posting this - it's a good reminder to future Elise owners to never, EVER, parallel park your Elise.
 

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Sorry to hear about your bad experience Steve, but it sounds like it could have been worse, as you say.

Thanks for posting this though, maybe it will make others aware of the need to visually check the space behind and to the sides, etc.

Slighty OT, I got a "fixit ticket" last night while my wife and I were trying to get to the Hollywood Bowl. We were crawling along in traffic on Hollywood Blvd., and my wife and I started noticeing all these police; on foot, on horseback, on bicycles. A couple of them were cruising down the street on mountain bikes at a crawl, on both the passenger and drivers sides of the cars, looking down into the passenger compartments. My wife had just said something like "Gee that's kind of creepy, an invasion of privacy isn't it ?" When there's a tap at my window and it's a policeman on a bike. He asked me for my license, registration, proof of insurance and asks me where my front license plate is (?). So he gave me a ticket, which essentially goes away after I install the plate and have it signed off by a sheriff or CHP officer.

Well I'm just kind of bummed out on a few levels. Of course he's right, it's the law in California that you're supposed to have a plate on the front and the rear. So I can't argue with him, we're clearly in the wrong on this. But....We were in my wife's '98 Accord, and neither her car or my Miata have front plates, and I don't want to put one on my Elise when I get that either. It just makes the front end look clunky, IMO. Well now I've gotta put it on the Accord, at least.

The thing that we were freaked out about was the extraordinary measure, IMO, of pulling us over for this. Were they just out to justify what seemed to us to be a very highly visible police presence (for what, we don't know)? I'm not trying to bash the police I know that they take a lot of abuse and yet when there's an emergency or problem they're the ones we rely on. And the officer was very polite, asking me a few times "do you have any questions?" (why?) It was just kind of weird, I couldn't help thinking "okay, have we arrived at this place, a real police state?"

Or maybe now I'm just super-paranoid. Sorry to hijack your thread Steve !
 

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Couple things:

1: Have you considered suing the manufacturer for false advertising? They market these "back-up" sensors as a safety measure, yet from your account the sensor is useless. I can't imagine that you are the only one who has made such a mistake. You are relying on the system to work, one of the reasons you may have bought the car...it is therefore is the responsibility of the manufacturer to correct the error, change the system, clarify that the user should not rely on the sensor, or remove it entirely.

2: I have a lot of experience driving 15-passenger vans (you, know, the really really unsafe type). To drive one for the university (as I use them to transport students on field trips), I am required to take a van driving course (or obtain a commercial license). One of the things we learn in the course is how to back up the vehicle, as rear visibility is also very very poor. When backing up, I rely almost entirely on the mirrors, and I use static points on the van to help me judge distance (as you cant tell distance from looking in the mirror alone). With this method, I can park inches from a 2-foot orange cone, or a small vehicle.

This is one more reason why I think large SUV owners should be required to have a commercial license to operate these massive automobilies. You cannot operate them like a normal vehicle because they have a high center of gravity, are less maneuverable at high-speeds, cannot brake quickly, and cannot be backed up easily. It really upsets me that manufacturers get wavers to sell these things as cars. IMHO, they are extremely unsafe for the unexperienced driver.
 

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Mikester,

Those cops have been doing that for years. I too have been questioned on Hollywood Blvd. At the time I had a New Hampshire license plate, so when they asked where my front plate was, I told them that in NH I am not required to have one. Once he looked around the back and saw the plate, he let me go.

They like to harass the cruisers, especially there or on the strip.
 

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Modern Wedgie said:
It really upsets me that manufacturers get wavers to sell these things as cars. IMHO, they are extremely unsafe for the unexperienced driver.
I couldn't agree more. It's also upsetting to see them adding features to try to make them appear safer...features which, as Steve discovered, are not very well engineered and cannot be depended on.

Hey, let's turn this into an SUV-bashing thread! ;) Just kidding...
 

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mikester said:
It was just kind of weird, I couldn't help thinking "okay, have we arrived at this place, a real police state?"

Or maybe now I'm just super-paranoid. Sorry to hijack your thread Steve !
With all due respect, if you're running around for years on end (I assume) without a plate, why would you think it strange to be stopped for it once in a while? The cops may have been there looking for something else, but that doesn't mean they should turn a blind eye to obvious infractions. I say count yourself lucky it doesn't happen more often!

Modern Wedgie said:
1: Have you considered suing the manufacturer for false advertising?
I would suspect they've plastered the manual, and maybe the dash, with warnings that it's only a guide, and not foolproof. These manufacturers ain't stoopid! :D
 

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Modern Wedgie said:

This is one more reason why I think large SUV owners should be required to have a commercial license to operate these massive automobilies. You cannot operate them like a normal vehicle because they have a high center of gravity, are less maneuverable at high-speeds, cannot brake quickly, and cannot be backed up easily. It really upsets me that manufacturers get wavers to sell these things as cars. IMHO, they are extremely unsafe for the unexperienced driver.

Totally agree. The public's been lulled (conned?) into thinking these things can be driven like sports cars (witness the commercials for these things), and it just ain't so. They started out as commercial vehicles, the smog laws (CAFE standards) let them off the hook as commercial vehicles, so I say tax them as commercial vehicles and requre the drivers of them to have a commercial vehicle license.
 

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MattG said:


Hey, let's turn this into an SUV-bashing thread! ;) Just kidding...
Well, based upon the facts of Steve's incident alone, your elise has a good chance of literally being bashed by an SUV.

So you're just looking to get even -- virtually, and before the fact -- which would seem to be an entirely reasonable reaction. [I'm not sure what smiley (if any) fits here???]
 

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pinmagic said:
With all due respect, if you're running around for years on end (I assume) without a plate, why would you think it strange to be stopped for it once in a while? The cops may have been there looking for something else, but that doesn't mean they should turn a blind eye to obvious infractions. I say count yourself lucky it doesn't happen more often!
6.5 years ! You're right, and I pretty much said so in the rest of the post (or tried to anyway). It wasn't the ticket that bugged so much, it was the overall experience that was a bit chilling. Okay let's face it, getting a ticket is just plain no fun. :D
 

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Modern Wedgie said:
This is one more reason why I think large SUV owners should be required to have a commercial license to operate these massive automobilies. You cannot operate them like a normal vehicle because they have a high center of gravity, are less maneuverable at high-speeds, cannot brake quickly, and cannot be backed up easily. It really upsets me that manufacturers get wavers to sell these things as cars.
:clap: :clap: AMEN.

I can't fathom why a Viper pays a guzzler tax but a Hummer does not. Why does a small commercial truck pay more at a toll booth, but a Licoln Navigator does not?

How on earth can someone pass their driving test in a Civic and then go drive an entirely different kind of vehicle? You need a different license for Motorcycle, why not "huge vehicle"?

If they would just classify trucks by objective characteristics instead of paint scheme, a lot of these problems would be fixed. Maybe soccer moms would think twice if they had to pay a gas guzzler tax, higher registration fes, tolls, and get a Commercial Truck license to drive it..
 

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I "third" MW's suggestion! (After Ground Loop's "Amen.")

Personally, I think SUVs should be hit with the gas guzzler tax just like cars are. And I absolutely agree that driver's of these SUVs should have commercial licenses.

Other rules I'd like to see (especially after seeing the Suburban with 16" lift kit):

1) Any lifted SUV must pass mechanical inspection annually
2) Any lifted SUV must have mud flaps that extend down to within 3" of the ground (to prevent rock kick-up into driver behind the SUV)
3) Any lifted SUV must have its headlights re-aimed
4) Any lifted SUV must have bumper extensions that reach downward to standard bumper levels
5) No lifted SUV may drive in the fast lane. In fact, restrict them to the slow lane and the next lane over.)
6) Any lifted SUV will require a 4th brake light that is at the standard height for passenger cars

I could go on and on...

Bob
 
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