Unfortunate New “06880” Feature: Today’s Car Plowing Into A Storefront

This happened just moments ago.

And yes, once again, it’s Compo Shopping Center.


(Photo/Betsy Pollak)

Yesterday I said, “Be careful out there.”

Today I’ll add, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

52 responses to “Unfortunate New “06880” Feature: Today’s Car Plowing Into A Storefront

  1. This is getting a bit ridiculous! Are people putting their cars in drive instead of reverse?!

  2. Charlene Girden

    This morning there were a series of car robberies at compo beach. Lock your cars 😒

    • Michelle Benner

      Yikes. What time? My car was parked there from 9:30-10:00, thankfully spared (and locked).

  3. Miggs Burroughs

    And let’s not fail to congratulate Westport retailers for going the extra step in service and convenience by featuring drive through windows.

  4. Looks like it stopped before actually plowing through. Re my theory: lots of newer cars have floor mounted auto trans levers where “D” vs. “R” is not as readily apparent as it is on the old column mount shifters in which the lever is always about 1 o’clock position in “R” and about 4 o’clock in “D”.

    I suspect this is at least a contributing factor to this rash of storefront crashes.

  5. Example: driver want to back out of space. Puts car into “D” instead of “R” and turns around to look backward. Car doesn’t move because wheels are touching the curb, so driver presses the gas a little harder and doesn’t notice in which direction the car is driving until it’s too late.

    • But why is it always happening in the same parking lots? Why not in home garages? At the beach? Parker Harding Plaza?

      • *Twilight Zone* theme playing behind your words…

      • x Dan

        The CVS clerks told me (each time — basically about once a year on average for the thirteen plus years I’ve lived blocks away) that they were “elderly people picking up prescriptions”. Which only answers your question for this one shop… and none of the others.

      • Maybe erratic movements in the lot, which can cause erratic responses?

  6. I bet there are VERY few stick shift cars involved in this type of crash

    • x Mr.Blau / *Mr.Gelb* πŸ™‚

      When people drive a stick they are far more aware of their driving AND the road AND their surroundings AND their car AND the beautiful synchronicity between all of those. I really miss my little 1970s stickshift Opel (which travelled on a boat w/ it’s previous Mama or Papa from Deutschland) before they were sold here I think. Driving a stick is really driving…

      • Barbara Sherburne '67

        I totally agree with you, Zoe. I still have a stick shift car, a 1993 Toyota Tercel. You definitely have to be more aware of everything when driving a stick shift car.

    • So very well said, Peter. A stick demands the the driver’s attention like nothing else. It also offers supreme control. I’ll bet none of the vehicles involved theses accidents had manual transmissions. Sure miss driving a stick. Operating a vehicle with an automatic transmission is like driving an appliance.

      • πŸ™ Now I am unhappy that Mr.Boyd did not post his ode to the stick after my *love story* — left in this very thread — about my 1970s Opel & the intergalactic joy & practical benefits of driving a stickshift. Because… is this a boys club? (I shall drive myself to a kitchen now… barefoot… & w/ child… stirring a bowl w/ one hand & try not to ~~~grind~~~ the gears).

        • … as it was addressed to “Peter”. I am going to start a girls only pro-stickshift organisation…

          • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

            I’ll join that club. Miss my old Stick Shift. It’s been gone far too many years but remembered by me with great fondness.

      • Peter, Morley, Zoe and Mary Lou,

        I couldn’t agree more about the deep personal satisfaction and the overall superiority of driving a stick shift. My very first car, “Blue Beauty”, was an old, beat up, hand-me-down 58 Chevy. I never tired of proudly pointing out that “Blue Beauty” was three years older than me. Oh how I loved driving that car!

        Besides the stick, with which I would effortlessly and masterfully shift gears with, much like I would imagine conducting an orchestra, it came replete with large gaping holes in the floor boards and windshield wipers that would operate intermittently. When ever it rained, I would happily “seize the day” and carefully position my head out the drivers side window to safely see to steer and, of course, eventually mop out all the mud puddles that would splash up through the large holes in the floor boards. But I didnt mind one bit. No, “Blue”, well…she was my first car and I loved driving her.

        And her stick, along with her manual steering wheel (remember those?!), always made my driving experience a full time, 100% committment to the true art of driving. You had to give her your all. Now that was really driving!

        • Hahaha… I once had to take over driving someone else’s car (a young woman) all the way from NYC to Kingston NY because she didn’t know how to shift (& neither did my former husband or his best friend — sitting next to me — despite they were both two years older than me & Italian from Palermo Sicily).

          She kept blaming it on the car! But I could HEAR it wasn’t the car. She kept grinding & stalling in the middle of the highway! ‘All right pull over… I know how to drive…’ Then straight away it was like butter — just a beautiful car.

          Shifting is like baking. With baking you can’t do too much & you can’t do too little. It’s a feel thing vs. a force thing & some people don’t have that kind of receptivity which is at once physical & cerebral. You can spin a lot of theories about why at pain of even death some people can’t shift!

          I love that feeling of the gears changing like butter & I love the heightened feeling of attention it gives you for the road & the surroundings.

        • PS Mr.Suggs: You left out Barbara!

        • Hahaha… “manual steering wheels” we could have collectively powered windfarms if somebody had engineered a way to hook us up to them. (Perhaps just a LOT of us — stationary & surrounding a windfarm like Stonehenge).

          • Zoe, I’m pretty sure you know I didn’t actually mean to exclude anybody – regardless of their gender. I was just struck by the simple brilliance of the observation itself; most anyone can drive an automatic. But the act of shifting, as you so well articulated, requires a number of different skills which must be brought to bear in concert with one another. In there end, there’s little left for mischief – such as texting and so on. Perhaps the store front crashers would be better served with a manual.

            • I was joking Mr.Boyd!

              What kind of “appliance” btw?

              • What kind of appliance? Something that spins furiously but largely goes unnoticed and, of course, asks little of its owner; a washing machine comes to mind.

        • Re. “manual steering”

          I like the feel of rack & pinion steering.

  7. Mary Ruggiero

    How much outdoor those little cement bumpers cost? Certainly less than a front window.

  8. I think the owner of Compo shopping center & others which have had multiple crashes should install those crashproof posts that have been installed in front of the Black Rock Turnpike CVS in Fairfield. (Btw there are two CVS on BRT & I refer to the one farther along when travelling toward Easton).

    There were so many crashes into this one shop — they finally had the good sense to put these up. There are also two of these post barriers across the street (but a bit down the block) on either side of a telephone pole & electric powerlines/cables. Those were put up after a vehicle plowed into the pole breaking it & knocking the power lines down — leaving some residents & shops without power.

    Please see my comment(s) posted only days ago on Dan’s recent related articles — as my 91 year old neighbour was tragically hit & killed a little over one month ago just in front of the shop & power lines written of here (BRT Fairfield). This is frightening. People are hit & injured & now killed here by careless drivers w/ regularity.

    I wrote of a few possible remedies there as all of the drivers who plowed into the CVS were elderly and the Westporter who hit & killed my elderly neighbour did so when the light was set to blinking — which people speed through no longer slowing or stopping when required.

  9. Michelle Benner

    This is nuts. I’m so curious to know how these happen. Is there a way to interview those who accidentally plow over curbs into store windows? Or to find out from the store owners with the broken windows if they know how it happened?

    • Investigative journalists sometimes specialise in things such as traffic or public safety or health or civil rights etc. I think they can view police reports which are public & collect data such as causes of crashes etc. That would explain a lot without having to interview people — who probably would not want to be interviewed. You can try to contact one of them either through a paper such as the Hartford Courant or New Haven Register etc. Or sometimes they work independently of papers w/ their own organisations which have websites where you can contact them. There are also investigative journalists in television & radio such as NPR.

  10. Historically, the VW Bug has been known to have an autonomous control system that takes control of the car and drives on its own. This is a well documented phenomenon. I believe there were several documentaries on it in the 70s.

    • So funny — a real-life Herbie!

    • Sounds like an invention from our friends, the trial lawyers, who came up with the fake “unintended acceleration” theories starting with the Audis, and later with Toyotas and other makes. Scientists and engineers could never duplicate the claimed problems, but a few plaintiffs (and especially their lawyers) really cleaned up.

  11. Is this a game of high stake darts? I believe that’s the exact spot another car drove into about a month ago.

  12. The driver will really have to follow her own sticker advice: “Breathe”
    (seriously, I hope she’s okay)

  13. Margaret Mazer

    I wonder how old these drivers are?
    Possibly too old to see or too young to pay attention.

    • Or too middle-aged to put down their cellphones. I’m just sayin’….

      • x Dan

        “I’m just sayin'” translated into the language of a previous age: ‘I merely wish to offer an observation for your benefit if it pleases you’

  14. A few posts ago, “Gentlemen Stop Your Engines”, the likely causes of cars ending up in storefronts were largely attributed to the distractions of texting, pedal confusion,the poor designs of both parking and traffic flow, adjusting the cars’ controls and even the actions of the often maligned drivers from neighboring New York. All the reasons cited seemed fairly reasonable.

    In this current post, more emphasis seems to be placed on the means of positioning the shift lever in either a manual or an automatic transmission. The root cause may be a combination of some of the reasons listed above – though texting while shifting seems highly unlikely.

    While it’s easy to cite a lack of situational awareness of the driver as a catch all, who among us hasn’t done something which in hindsight, was due to inattention?

    What bothers me is the frequency of these incidences.The crash posts should not be needed even if they work. Maybe the stores should install a motion detector with a distinct warning sound (OK, I can’t see that happening) but some means of engaging the driver is needed prior to impact.

    • x Mr.Lohman

      Re. the CVS crashes/post barriers BRT Fairfield I wrote of: the drivers were all elderly in these instances. They may have been hard of hearing or confused — so I don’t know how effective a warning sound would be. There has not been another crash into the shop since these were put in.

  15. Elisabeth Keane

    Do you think the new auto-pilot cars will have any effect on these events?

  16. x Elisabet Keane

    I put the sensor in the wrong place. Yes, the new cars with
    autonomous braking may just be the answer. The unfortunate
    thing is they are not on the older vehicles which most of us
    drive. The elderly pose a very difficult problem as the possible loss of driving privileges has to be one of the cruelest things one
    can experience. However, my car was destroyed by an older driver who didn’t know where they were or on what street, so I am very much aware of this issue. At some point the level of competency of the aging driver has to be addressed, especially if they do not realize their own impairment. Getting old is the pits.

  17. We need pylons at shopping centers where cars are parked forward facing…directly into store windows where people may get hurt or worse killed. Unfortunatly it’s also possible that until there’s a tragic event, nothing will change, btw many town have these regulations in place already.

  18. Bonnie Bradley

    I’ll join the ladies who appreciate the joys of driving a car with a manual transmission. And, I’m still driving one, a 2001 VW Cabriolet. My son brought it for me about 5 years ago after the old ’92 bit the dust ( VW no longer made parts for it & just about every part was worn out). He bought it (online) for $5,000 – the bargain of the century: 65,000 miles, black with cream interior and leather seats, immaculate, and gets an honest 33 mpg. Hilly Litchfield County is terrific terrain for such a vehicle, with 5 gears (plus reverse). It handles like a dream and, yes, when you drive it you have to pay attention… because the driver is actually participating in the event, thinking about the car and what’s next, what’s going on, always. I hardly ever drive it on the highway because you feel like you’re riding in a ladybug – much too dangerous. It’s not great in the snow or the cold, with a cloth top, so it has a winter rest inside and I resort to the old Subaru Forrester (automatic transmission), much better for lugging 6 bags of mulch too! But my heart belongs to my Cabriolet. I’m always smiling – (and alert!) when I’m behind the wheel.
    High five to Zoe & Mary S. – and Morley: you got it just right.

    • I agree, Bonnie, and believe all student drivers learn with manual transmission first.

    • x Bonnie Bradley:

      & also Barbara confessed her love for a manual transmission…

      The type of steering is important for road *feel* & drive *feel* also… There is a newer kind neither manual nor power nor rack&pinion (which I love) that the newer VWs have (& probably other cars). I forget what it’s called. I was admiring a woman’s newer VW & she was describing it & I was a bit jealous — between the stickshift & the steering & the look of the car.

      I love VWs & your model has the distinction of having been the subject of that c. 2000 advert w/ the perfection itself Nick Drake song ‘Pink Moon’ — since the 70s one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite musicians. (It’s online if you have never seen it).

  19. Bonnie Bradley

    Thanks Zoe… Your comments are always terrific, on every subject. I love your passion and breadth of knowledge. About Barbara, sorry I didn’t scan the previous comments well enough and missed her name when I looked back.

    Know VWs are great cars but a new one is out of my reach. Kudos to my son for understanding & appreciating the sensibility of a “mere” woman’s possible love of an exquisite machine :). And we never discussed it; he just sent me an email photo of the car one day with the subject line “Thoughts?” What a lovely guy!

    • Thank you Bonnie — how kind of you! I read far too much & the rest can be blamed on age. You are very lucky for your son!