Ohio Motorist Drives in Reverse for More Than a Mile on the Highway

Cameras left running can record the strangest occurrences, from traffic shenanigans to meteors exploding over Russia. The Ohio Department of Transportation posted a video on Facebook this week from one of its traffic cameras that caught a motorist exiting the highway, crossing two intersections, and parking in a nearby lot—all while in reverse.

Fox 8 reports that the motorist drove for more than 1.2 miles in reverse. Ohio DOT suspects that the vehicle got stuck in reverse, which would explain why the driver did not turn around given the opportunity. But rather than simply pull over to the side of the road, the driver used the one remaining gear to get out of traffic.

At one point the camera focuses on a police car stopped in traffic on an off-ramp that the reversing vehicle had just passed. But the officer does nothing, apparently not having seen the car drive through the intersection backward—though, admirably, on the proper side of the road for its direction of travel.

Cars are set up so that their wheel alignments make them stable when traveling forward. These same settings make them rather unstable in reverse. For low-speed parking lot maneuvering, this is fine, but it can lead to a dangerous situation at higher speeds, especially on the street. 

Even stunt vehicles that appear to be driving backward at high speed are actually being driven forward, as I learned in a demonstration at Disney’s Lights, Motors, Action stunt show before it shut down in 2016. The specially designed car looks identical to the “hero car,” but the body is installed backward so that it looks to be driving backward when it’s actually being going forward from the driver’s point of view.

Fortunately, there were no crashes or injuries in this particular situation. Still, Ohio DOT posted this video as an example of what not to do. This driver should have simply pulled over to the side of the road (in reverse would be fine) and called for help, the DOT says.

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