"Apparently This Matters" is CNN Tech's weekly, offbeat look at trending topics online
This week, Jarrett looks at a 125 mph, out-of-control car ride
The French driver maintained control, despite two seizures and two toll booths
He clearly should have had a 4-cylinder Saturn -- no 125 mph here
Editor’s Note: Each week in “Apparently This Matters,” CNN’s Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.
I drive a Saturn. It’s a 4-cylinder, the seats are cloth, and the window sills are permanently caked with dog drool. Which always works out rather well for the guys at the car wash who regularly enjoy the financial benefits of my shame.
“Sir, did something explode?”
“Here, just take all my money.”
But this less-than-spectacular, mid-sized SUV certainly gets the job done. So long as the job doesn’t call for impressing exotic, beautiful women. For that I rely on my bald head and lush, ginger beard.
All this is to say that I’m a simple man, and at the end of the day my car just needs to do one thing: Get me from Point A to Point B. And preferably without the accelerator getting dangerously stuck at 125 mph on the highway.
Because that’s exactly what happened to some poor guy in France who recently had the craziest ride of his life.
It was a popular trending story online that quickly made its way across the Atlantic, detailing how Frank Lecerf casually drove off from his home in Pont-de-Metz for a weekly routine trip to the supermarket.
Then, suddenly, the speed control on his Renault Laguna – which was specially modified for a disabled driver – jammed at 60 mph.
This, of course, being in Europe, was actually displayed on his dash in kilometers. However, my brain can’t handle such a thing, as it requires both math and a basic understanding of the number 10.
Nevertheless, in a panic, the terrified 36-year-old attempted to use the brakes. But the more he tried to stop the vehicle, the faster it went, eventually topping out at 125 mph.
That is a truly sensational speed that I could never expect out of my own stupid car unless it somehow managed to free-fall from the International Space Station.
But Lecerf was evidently going that fast, completely out of control, with no way to stop. And before you rattle off your brilliant solutions, let’s at least give him the benefit of the doubt that he unsuccessfully attempted to turn off the ignition and/or drop it into neutral.
Yet, somehow, despite miraculously keeping control of his car, Lecerf also managed to multitask and make an emergency call from his mobile phone.
“So, uh, what are you wearing?”
Soon, several police cruisers caught up to the runaway car to escort it through traffic, and later assist with three toll plazas where they called ahead to have the gates raised.
All things considered, it must have at least been nice to be king for a day.
Emergency services even patched him through to an expert engineer at Renault who tried to help.
“Right. Have you tried using the brakes?”
“Go to hell.”
Incredibly, their only hope was for Lecerf to eventually run out of gas. And that’s where this story gets truly amazing. Because it took a while.
A long while.
About 125 miles and one country later, just over the French border into Belgium, his car finally sputtered dry and crashed into a ditch. Which actually seems like a rather unnecessary ending after you’ve already managed to safely avoid tragedy while traversing the entire northern coast of France.
“Welp, might as well dump this thing into a hole.”
Lecerf later recounted the seemingly endless horror to the Le Courrier Picard newspaper, describing his emotions during the harrowing journey.
“My life flashed before me,” he said. “I just wanted it to stop.”
And so it did. Amazingly without any casualties. Though the UK’s Guardian newspaper reports that while Lecerf wasn’t injured, he did suffer two epileptic seizures.
Not that we’re keeping score, but surely that ought to count.
Regardless, everything more or less worked out in the end, and at least he never went flying off a cliff. For Lecerf adhered to the most basic rule of driving: The tires are the things on your car that make contact with the road.
And sometimes, just for fun … with a ditch in Belgium.