Dangerous Driving: What Would You Do?

Alert — and terrified — “06880” reader Ellen Patafio writes:

My kids and I just witnessed an extremely scary sight. We were turning left from North Compo Road onto Main Street, across from Clinton Avenue.  A very young girl in a navy blue Range Rover behind us came flying down Compo. She made the left turn onto Main, tires screeching and almost tipping over. She was on 2 wheels. She landed hard on 4 wheels, and rocked back and forth.

It was frightening to watch. I kept my eye on her in the rear view mirror, hoping that incident woke her up to the importance of driving carefully.

We were both stopped at the light in front of Crossroads Hardware. When the light turned green, I moved ahead and turned to the right. This young woman was distracted by her phone. She did not move. When she realized she was holding up traffic, she again floored the gas and took the turn at a high rate of speed.

Car with 2 wheels

Do not try this at home. Or in Westport.

I am sending this to “06880,” thinking if I was this girl’s parents I would want to know that she was in need of some additional education on how to properly drive. As a parent, I would want to take this opportunity to have a conversation of the perils of careless driving and the effects they have on everyone — not just the driver. This situation could easily have had a very different outcome.

I did take down the plate number in case I ever run into her again. I would gently suggest taking more care when driving. I would have done that at the time, but the flow of traffic prohibited the opportunity.

That’s quite a story. “06880” readers: What do you think? How would you have handled the situation? As a parent, what would you do if a stranger told you this story about your child? Should the police be involved? We want to hear from you. Click “Comments” below — and please use your full, real name.

30 responses to “Dangerous Driving: What Would You Do?

  1. Donna Rosenfeld

    Unfortunately there are too many similar incidents involving drivers and their mobile phones. I see it every day all over town. This incident seems to have been particularly dangerous and since Ellen was smart enough to get the license plate number, it seems foolish not to report this child’s behavior. A child is certainly what this driver is. If I were her parent I would want to know of my child’s recklessness before a major disaster happens. Ellen, I implore you to follow through . It’s probable this will happen again unless she is “outed” . You were smart enough to note the plate number. Now be smart enough to do something with it. In so doing, you’re keeping Westports streets a little , no, a lot, safer. Thank you Donna Rosenfeld

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Susan Granger

    I once experienced a somewhat similar situation involving road rage. I reported the license number and car description to the Westport Police. I was told they would follow through with a warning. I think it’s the duty of every citizen to try to make the roads a bit safer for all of us.
    Susan Granger

  3. John Karrel

    Two central challenges here =
    1. It’s not just kids, it’s their parents.
    2. It’s not just 06880, it’s an entrenched reality of our lives, pretty much everywhere.

  4. Diana Zaslow

    This woman should take the license plate number to the police immediately. The police will go to the girls parents home and tell them what this woman so. They could not give her a ticket at that time but inform the parents

  5. Judyth A. H. Katz

    I think you should have called the police. They are very good at sorting things out. The behavior was extremely dangerous.

  6. Phillip Perri

    Nothing new, see it every day between young people driving dangerously, speeding, etc. AND parents doing the same and BOTH texting or talking on a cell phone non-hands free. Only a matter of time before another innocent person is hurt or killed. I understand the issue with reporting, i.e. the parents are probably uninvolved with their kids so what is the use? In this case it is obvious that this young lady is totally unprepared to handle a vehicle like a Range Rover. Heck, I know someone who allowed their just licensed son to drive their Ferrari! Brilliant. That said I would have at least published the plate number so when I read in the newspaper that the Range Rover killed someone I would know I did everything I could to have prevented it. Dan, why not create a section of the blog for reporting dangerous driving/drivers with descriptions of vehicles and plate numbers, but without having to disclose the name of the reporter? It’s not a great solution, but if drivers know they may find themselves listed on a regular blog blast it might just save one life. Thoughts?

  7. A few years ago, while drivng southbound ion Compo South, a car coming in the opposite direction cross over the yellow line to overtake the car in front, and headed straight at me. Only by pulling over to the right and off the road was I able to avoid a serious head on collision. A young male driver was at the wheel and it was the beginning of summer when many kids get on the road. Something needs to be done before a disaster happens.

  8. Absolutely go to the police. PLEASE. When I see driving like this, I not only think about how my many years of driving experience allows me to be able to avoid an accident, but I also think about how my teenaged driver would NOT know how to avoid. PLEASE take this information to the police with all due haste.

  9. Karl S. Taylor

    It would be easiest for all if you gave this information to the police. Talking to the teenager or their parents is beyond your pay grade, and could lead to an unpleasant situation. Be willing to provide eye witness data to the police which will, hopefully, reduce this kind of driving.

  10. Alan Beasley

    This is a “No Brainer”
    Notify the police PRONTO!

  11. Jens Buettner

    First of all I would change the age for getting a driver’s license up to 18. Second, the time it takes to acquire a driving license in the US is a joke. In Europe you need to have a minimum of 20 hours in a driving school before you are allowed to get the permit.
    What do you expect if 16 or 17 year old kids (or should I say spoiled brads) with little driving experience, speeding around town in Range Rovers, Porsche Cayennes or sports cars and don’t have a clou how to handle these kind of cars.

  12. Mary Ann West

    Funny, this was just a topic of conversation a few days ago at the beach. I learned to drive a 1960 VW bug convertible, stick shift, four on the floor.

    Everyone else (all over 50) were in agreement, learning to drive a manual makes you more aware of the mechanics of driving. That Range Rover with an inexperienced driver is a danger to us all.

    • Susan Iseman

      Me too! I purchased my first car – a 1961 Beetle (for $350) and learned how to drive a stick shift pretty quick. Mine didn’t have heat LOL- did yours? Agree it does make one a more responsive driver, dare I say? I hope that Ellen Patafio does report this speeder. Would love to know what steps law enforcement takes upon receiving such information from us. Anyone know?

      • Mary Ann West

        I don’t recall a heat issue, but I do know that my parents got rid of it soon after my young brother put his foot through the rotted (rusted out) floor boards.

        • Sharon Paulsen

          I also learned to drive in a bug, stick shift!
          Mine had way too much heat, but was great in the winter. Summer, not so much, lol.

          I definitely think it made me a better driver, but I had a couple of fender benders in college – snow, ice, Ithaca roads, two cars slowly sliding into each other – it happens, lol!

  13. Morley Boyd

    Ellen, your instincts are solid. Follow through if you haven’t by now. This child and her parents – as well as everyone else – will benefit from you reporting this matter to the police. The young woman needs a guard rail right now. And this is the most appropriate way to do it. As a side note, I personally would not be comfortable letting a young, inexperienced driver operate a vehicle with a high center of gravity without supervision.

  14. Jerry MacDaid

    You should report this to the police and might want to consider doing so anonymously. If you give them your name, it is part of the report and vindictive child and/or parent will be able to identify you. I gather the police understand this and will treat the anonymous report the same way they would treat one with names attached.

  15. Jann Colabella

    Please go to the police with her license number!

  16. Nancy Hunter

    Six months with a Learners license, then two years with a Novice license, then another exam for a full license. Only one passenger (excluding parents) with either a learners or novice license, and if stopped for any offense the procedure resets. It’s a pretty good program.

    p.s. I hope this doesn’t sound “supercilious”.

  17. I agree with everybody else…since you took the time to write this and to take down the license plate , go straight to the police! They will handle it properly. You might save a few lives…If I were the parents, I would take away the phone for awhile and driving privileges also. So many parents are just too busy to care about what their kids are doing when they are not around. It isn’t until something major happens before they wake up and notice…

  18. Matt Bannon

    Post the plate number and contact our police
    As a parent I would want to know!!
    You may possibly save her life and someone else’s!!


  19. Share this information with the police. And let’s not dis the parents — the kid may well drive with more restraint when they are around.

  20. Werner Liepolt

    Many Westport parents get heavy SUVs for their kids (usually daughters) in the mistaken belief that a heavy car makes then safer. Unfortunately the higher elevation from the road and the availability of lots of surplus power makes them a hazard for the rest of us.

    • Nancy Hunter

      Many parents in affluent places everywhere give their kids cars with uber engines. Too often a deadly mix, drugs and alcohol notwithstanding.

  21. Matt Murray

    I suspect the stability controls built into the vehicle may have saved the vehicle from rolling over.*
    If any one has a teen learning to drive, sign them up for the “Street Survival” program presented by Tirerack:
    Real world. Hands on.
    When your teen driver attends a Street Survival school, we teach them to control your car in unpredictable situations based on its handling limits. They master the application of driving physics using their car. They learn how to make good driving decisions and react more quickly. They become more aware and learn how to begin anticipating the actions of other drivers.
    When your teen driver attends a Street Survival school, we teach them to control your car in unpredictable situations based on its handling limits. They master the application of driving physics using their car. They learn how to make good driving decisions and react more quickly. They become more aware and learn how to begin anticipating the actions of other drivers.
    Only $75 per student.
    There is a school Friday August 20th, 2016 in Stratford and coordinated by the Fairfield County Sports Car Club (www.fcscc.com). It’s the best money you’ll ever spend for your teen on driving lessons.
    Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the Tirerack outside of buying tires from them. I just want safer drivers around me.

    *As to stability controls, about ten years ago NHTSA allowed all the manufactures to work together on a common goal of safer travel with stability controls. It was an unusual move, but allowed the engineers to work unencumbered for the benefit of all. A friend with GM was part of it and was so pleased with what happened and how it turned out.

  22. Andrew Colabella

    quit your stalling and go to the police…preventing future accidents and possible injuries and deaths

  23. Late to the party here as usual. Point number one, I agree that the authorities must be notified if for no other reason than to be made aware of the situation. Number two, as a parent, you bet I’d want to know! Number three, let’s all be extra diligent and cautious out there while driving the mean streets of Westport!