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back to article Satanic Renault takes hapless French bloke on 200km/h joyride

A disabled French driver was taken on a 200km/h white-knuckle ride by his "insane" Renault, as a quick shopping trip turned into a high-speed, 210 km jaunt to Belgium. Frank Lecerf, 36, left Pont-de-Metz, close to Amiens, in his Renault Laguna 3 to hit the shops in nearby Dury. His route took in a short section of the A16 …

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What was the nature of this man's disability? Just wondering...

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Anonymous Coward

I just spat brake fluid over my keyboard

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FAIL

hmmm

These keyless cars seem to have some huge security and safety issues that they reallydont seem to have thought through.

Theres a reason race cars (and Buses) have kill switches - to make it easier to stop .

All these bullshit cards and fobs are just making it harder.

I bet they even put in a "engine cannot be killed at speed to prevent losing brake assist" rule

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Devil

What was the nature of this man's disability?

Being French.

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I think you'll find...

@IAS

...his problem is being judged by xenophobic readers. Or poor comedians.

Actually, it's not the French slur, they are French after all. It's comparing disability to a comedy nationality. AFAIK, he never blamed/mentioned his disability. Hence we don't know what it is.

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Re: I think you'll find...

More poor comedian than xenophobe. But what is the world coming to if an englishman can't be gratuitously rude about the French?

As a serious point though, there's nothing wrong with making jokes about disability in general. People being over-sensitive is far more of a problem. Plus 'comedy nationalism' is a speciality of British humour, and last time I checked this site ended in .co.uk.

I suggest you lighten-up.

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@I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

You bigotted bastard, I know some really nice disabled people.

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Re: hmmm

We can probably assume the emergency stop feature was tried, since he called the support line and that would, presumably, be the first thing the tech would have told him to try.

...

Well second then, after "try closing all the windows". :-D

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

are any of them French - of course not, thery're really nice.

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Joke

Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

"of course not, thery're really nice."

With fava beans and a Chianti of course.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hmmm

Ermm... don't know about race cars, but what buses do have is a battery cut-off switch. It is not to "make it easier to stop" the bus though, it's there to help (allegedly) in the event of an electric fire.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I think you'll find...

CCCP, you must be French, judging by your lack of a sense of humour.

And by the way, you seem to have misspelled your own name: it is not "CCCP", it is "СССР".

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Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

are they french?

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Coffee/keyboard

Being French.

Remember, "The French have a city called Breast and don't find it funny" - Al Murray

Icon for I ain't Spartacus

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

"You bigotted bastard, I know some really nice disabled people."

I do not know what it is about car-related articles that seem to attract the mucho macho brigade so much. Stupid losers without a sense of humour or much of an intellect (I suspect the former requires the latter) by the looks of it.

I was one of the two who upvoted btw, nice bit of humour, if perhaps a bit too subtle for this article's readership. Congrats anyway, made me chuckle. :)

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Facepalm

Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

I must admit it was a bit too subtle for me... I read it several times, and still couldn't decide if it was being rude about me, or another go at the French.

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Hmmm

Do these cars that take their driver on high speed joy rides not have ignition switches?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmm

I've seen some new cars that don't have traditional keys but a kind of electronic tag thing. That combined with French electrics could prove "interesting".

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Re: Hmmm

Although the story doesn't give much detail on his disability, it's quite possible that the car's (presumably automatic) controls were specially adapted for him and this is some way compounded the issue of not being able to stop.

Even with a standard auto box, there's that much electronic locks etc on it to protect the engine that there's no guarantee it could have just been put into neutral at speed

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Facepalm

Re: Hmmm

Assuming its the same system as my Laguna MkII, you put a credit card type key into the dashboard and and then press a button to start the car. When the engine starts the key card is locked in place. When the car is moving the stop/start button is ignored.

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Re: Hmmm

"Assuming its the same system as my Laguna MkII, you put a credit card type key into the dashboard and and then press a button to start the car"

In the new laguna's and scenic's you don't even need to insert the key card - just have it on your person somewhere when in the car and the car will start.

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Re: Hmmm

In the current megane and clio, the card doesn't have to be put into the dash, having it on your person is enough to start ther car, whereby it isn't needed again (save to keep the car from beeping at you non-stop saying the card is not detected if you take it out of the car). With the car in motion the stop/start button doesn't work, however if you press it twice or more in quick succession is kills the engine no matter what speed you are doing (I tried it to see how dangerous that button was).

My guessing is that if he has hand controls then this could be making the problem much more complicated (assuming he has those) as a button to accelerate or brake could easily be ignored by the car itself. It almost sounds like the ECU is getting confused and thinking any incoming signal is one that suggests go faster.

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Re: Hmmm

My sister has a 54 plate Megane DCi that has Keycard ignition... I'm not familiar with the electrickery that they have harnessed to this Gallic witchcraft. I know someone who has a 2003 Laguna that was one of the most unreliable cars I have ever seen, covering almost as much mileage on the back of beaver-tail trucks as it did on its own wheels.

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WTF?

Re: Hmmm

When the car is moving the stop/start button is ignored.

I think you'll probably find, if you RTFM, that in common with other cars having pushbutton ignition, holding the thing down for a few seconds will stop the engine in an emergency, regardless of what the thing's doing at the time.

I'm afraid that the book that came with it is not provided purely to occupy empty space in the glovebox. For stupidity value though, you have to give a special mention to Mercedes (I think??) who placed the manual in a hidden compartment behind the glovebox in one of their models. The instructions on where to find the manual were written on, er, the first page of the manual.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmm @Electric Sheep

That sounds dangerous, my car has keyless entry, keyless start, but can still be turned off while driving... it makes sense...

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Re: Hmmm

Actually, no, Renaults don't have ignition switches. They are operated by wireless remote keyfobs.

The whole car is 'fly by wire' and this isn't the first time this has happened to a Laguna. If it was an automatic, quite likely as he is a disabled driver, then the gearbox is fly by wire too.

So basically all he is left with is steering.

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Re: Hmmm

"Although the story doesn't give much detail on his disability, it's quite possible that the car's (presumably automatic) controls were specially adapted for him and this is some way compounded the issue of not being able to stop."

Having read the rest of the comments, it appears that far too few people have picked up on this point. We are talking about a fly-by-wire car that has been modified in ways unanticipated by the original designers and is now being driven by someone who (at best) will only have skimmed the part of the instruction manual that tells you how to kill the whole car in the event of a catastrophic malfunction.

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Explicit Kill Switch

The engineer in me shouts that any design where you require an emergency kill switch should have a BIG, RED BUTTON called EMERGENCY STOP, easy to find (but not so easy to trip it during normal use) so that even the most stupid person can press it in an emergency.

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Re: Explicit Kill Switch

Funnily enough my bike has one, although it is in a place where it is frequently knocked :) Thinking about it, I can't recall a modern bike that I have ridden that doesn't have a kill switch of some kind on the handlebar, usually in an easy to reach \ knock position.

There are two problems that I can see, 1- somebody will always accidentally knock it, sods law says they do this and injure themselves and sue you and 2- if there is a sufficiently clever way of doing it, most buggers won't ever read the manual anyway. When I get a bike I get the shop manual and read it. I take it home, take it apart and put it back together because I'm deeply cynical and don't fancy riding around on something put together by the works exp kid who had 20 other bikes to de-crate and prep. Some folks go SHINY TOY and the destruction manual lives in the glove box\desk drawer collecting dust.

Whilst you are entirely correct, I think even if they did it we would still get these stories or ones about people accidentally turning off their car and crashing. We just let too many morons survive.

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Trollface

Re: Explicit Kill Switch

Stop making sense!!

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Re: Explicit Kill Switch

The reason its on the handlebar, so easy to reach, looks so obvious and is in the same location on every bike is simple: in case of an accident and the driver being pinned anyone can quickly kill the bike before assisting the driver.

In fact the use of the killswitch was the first thing I was instructed in on my very first lesson prior to getting my permit about 10 years ago.

Also I wonder how one would accidentally throw it while riding normally as it would mean taking your hand from the gas lever.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Explicit Kill Switch

Kurt, youve obviously never had someone ride along side you, reach over and flick it :)

We were so bad we used to tie our keys onto the mirror stalks with laces, because otherwise at the lights when your keys were whipped out you had 10 minutes searching the bushes for them while your nemasis made good their escape.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: tying keys to handlebars

So So true.

One day we stop at the lights in my (850cc totally standard) mini, next to a hotted V8 or some such, with beautifully exposed and chromed engine gubbins. Cue obligatory revving and rocking on the handbrake. Just before the light changes, my mate leaps out, pulls a great handful of plug cables off their engine, and off we roar (ok - toddle).

Laugh: I nearly shat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmm

True. Although you can't help wonder why the software engineers didn't build in some sort of safety feature whereby if it detects throttle open and brake signal at the same time (for say > 5 seconds), that it would significantly cut the fuel delivery so that the brakes would be able to overpower the engine and slow the vehicle. I doubt many people need to use left foot braking and therefore would never realise the safety feature was there until needed.

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Re: Hmmm

> a fly-by-wire car that has been modified in ways unanticipated by the original designers

According to reports, the police were in contact with theRenault's tech department during the incident. There was no mention of contact / attempted contact with any third party modification manufacturers, which leads me to believe that the car did not have after-market adaptions.

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IT Angle

Re: Explicit Kill Switch

I once worked for a company that had a big red kill switch in the computer room by the door, and also beside some communications equipment that I frequently had to access. This big red kill switch was not protected by a box and I twice activated it shutting down the IBM mainframe. The boss promised me that if I did it again, I would be seeking new employment. The next time it happened I was, fortunately, at my desk. 2 days later it was covered with a transparent plastic flip-cover. The same computer room was also protected by a halon fire suppression system. The temporary hold -to-kill switch for that was on a wall approximately 20 feet from the telephone that you would have to use to reach the security center that would be able to disarm the Halon system if there were no fire.

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Re: Explicit Kill Switch

Oh so true!! Another one is friends trying to knock your sidestand down. Not great at lights, worse mid corner. I do appreciate the kill switches on bikes, I just notice that I do tend to flick it quite often when putting the cover on the bike and for some reason it's never the first thing I check when it won't start (I'm not a quick learner I guess!).

As for hands off the gas, this is true although you can ride no hands without much problem. All you need is 'budget cruise control' which requires no more than a rubber washer to provide a little friction and is not prone to random acceleration to full throttle.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmm

"Do these cars that take their driver on high speed joy rides not have ignition switches?"

The Laguna as a remember tends to come with one of those proximity cards. All cars that I have driven in the last few years all have electronic (as opposed to mechanic) ignition.

But more importantly, why do you ask? Cutting the ignition will block the steering well on *any* car.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmm

"So basically all he is left with is steering."

Hehe! Just like Airbuses (the only mechanically linked control surface is the rudder).

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Devil

Re: Hmmm

In one of my more irritable moods..

After years of fighting with devil possessed computers, that REQUIRE the off button to be held in for a whole 4 seconds...

I now have a computer with BIG mechanical toggle switches, that say, "Fuck You" + click = OFF

The very thought of having to HOLD in an OFF switch for several seconds, while the car catapaults down the drive at 200Kmh - immediately drives me fucking insane (insaner???)

Failing the idiot manufacturers to include a simple vestige, in lieu of something terribly complex and intractible, i.e. a mechanical kill switch, I would unhesitatingly labotomise the engine and electrics with a rather large hand gun, with all rounds, merrily sailing through the dash board and firewall.

Yasamite Sam, "When I say woa, I mean WOA"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBhlQgvHmQ0

AKA the Renault.

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Re: Explicit Kill Switch

All cars should have a mechanical handbrake that kills the ABS power when lifted. It's not such a large kill switch to unsafely disable the car but it's enough to stop when the electronics are malfunctioning. (I've been in Cavalier with crap electronics. If the ABS says you can't use the brakes then you really can't use the brakes. The pedal pops up with more force than even the pedal can withstand.)

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Re: Hmmm

> Although you can't help wonder why the software engineers didn't build in some sort of safety feature whereby if it detects throttle open and brake signal at the same time (for say > 5 seconds), that it would significantly cut the fuel delivery so that the brakes would be able to overpower the engine and slow the vehicle.

That depends on the computer actually receiving something it recognises as a brake signal. If the input layer of the software was at fault, then that might fail. Maybe it could be done reliably with a separate microcontroller, but then if someone, say, modified the car to use hand-operated brake lever, the engineer who modified it would have to remember to connect the new brake lever to both the main system and the safety backup.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "The whole car is fly-by-wire"

No, it is not.

EU regulations mandate that there is a mechanical linkage in both steering and braking systems.

Hydraulic brakes are also designed in such a way that there are two independent circuits - usually each circuit controls one front brake and the opposite rear brake. This means that in the case of a failure in one circuit, the driver will still be able to apply a reasonable and balanced braking force.

Maybe the car was an automatic - although (stupidly) the story doesn't mention it this is the only way he would not have had the option of declutching or selecting neutral.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Explicit Kill Switch

You do realise that manufacturers are getting rid of the handbrake.

The paranoid would wonder if this fly by wire is little more than an elaborate ploy by the powers that be to assassinate people.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: handbrake

A parking brake is necessary. It is an essential item on the MOT. This is not going to change any time soon.

Also, questions are denoted by question marks. See?

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Vic
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Re: Hmmm

> Cutting the ignition will block the steering well on *any* car.

No it won't.

It may disable the power assist, but it will only disable the steering on cars with no physical steering column.

Removing the key will tend to engage the steering lock - which is why you shouldn't do it...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Steering wheel lock?

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Steering wheel lock?

What about it ? Do you think the towing eye would be any use whatsoever if the steering was locked whenever the ignition was off? You would have no power steering, nor power brakes for that matter, but they'll work fine purely mechanically.

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