Rant mode on:
There's this one area on my commute each day that is treacherous. There are always people in the road in good weather. People pull out of driveways without looking all the time, or even back out of the driveways without checking for traffic. Sometimes people are walking down the road in the middle of the road. Usually there is at least one person on the edge of the road (within a foot of the line).
However, it is just a 2 mile stretch of road, and I make sure to drive carefully through there.
Today it got up into the 70s here, so of course the roads were full of pedestrians again. Bear in mind this is a major interconnect road for this area.
So, as I'm driving along I can see past this curve that there are people walking in my direction in my lane. A male and a female. In the middle of my lane. So, as I go around the curve I'm simultaneously braking (medium-hard) and downshifting. When I got past the curve, I was down to about 40-45mph and in 3rd gear, still braking and downshifting. I immediately sized up the situation: oncoming car in other lane, female in middle of my lane, male halfway between her and the edge of the road, 18" or so shoulder, deep ditches on both sides, and no intention of anyone to get out of the way; in other words "oh snip". I immediately went into collission avoidance mode and downshifted rapidly while locking the tires and trying to steer between the woman and the oncoming car.
I came to a complete stop, stalling the engine. The woman was about a foot from the edge of the road, the man was on the shoulder, and I was about 10 inches from the woman. The oncoming car missed me by about a foot. At this point I'm shaky, scared, pumped on adrenaline, and pissed. The entire experience took perhaps 20 seconds from my first sighting of the pedestrians, and perhaps 10 seconds of "oh snip" mode. I look up at the woman with an incredulous look on my face thinking "what kind of stupid is that?!?" only to realize that she and the man are both yelling at me. Then she puts her cell phone back to her ear and says something, then returns to yelling at me. At no time did she get out of the road. Due to the locking of the brakes, the car skewed a little so I was at about a 10 to 15 degree angle within my lane with the front closer to the ditch than the rear. The couple walked past me yelling at me the entire time.
This is when the adrenaline turned on the anger. I was so angry that I revved the engine and popped the clutch and squealed the tires. Bear in mind that I put a flat spot on each tire just stopping, and stalled the engine using it to brake. As I went to shift to second and squeal the tires again, I realized my engine was going much faster than my speed would indicate. I had been slipping the clutch. That's an unpleasant odor.
At this point I stopped and started to back back towards the couple to ask them WTF they were thinking and why they thought they had the right to yell at me for doing an admirable job of not running over them in the middle of the road when they refused to get out of the road.
Halfway there I came to my senses. First, it was 2 against 1, and I was less than a half mile from 50+ of their friends. Second, everyone along that road feels entitled to use that road as a sidewalk, and since there isn't a real sidewalk, it is hard to blame them. Third, yelling at them wouldn't ever change their behavior and could be considered threatening if things turned ugly or the police ended up involved. So I put it back in 1st and drove gently home hopefully giving the clutch a chance to cool off. The first 1-2 shift was very rough.
End rant mode.
I just passed 150,000 miles yesterday. I was planning to do a special 150K maintenance this coming weekend. Change the oil and switch to synthetic, replace the air filter whether it needs it or not, convert the tranny to synthetic, new stock plugs and wires, run some injector cleaner through, and other such work. Now I'm concerned I'm going to need a clutch a lot sooner than I planned. Also, my brakes have developed an alarming squeak and throb. I'm pretty sure at least one rotor is grabbing as well as the left rear hub.
So, I figure what I'll now do this weekend is the oil change and tranny fluid change, and work on the brakes. However it occurs to me that this stretch of road is going to continue to have people that just won't get out of the road, and I'm wondering what kind of upgrade I can do to the brakes to improve my 60-0 time. Any suggestions on how to improve stopping power?
PS, sorry for a rant like this. I just really needed to blow off that steam. I'm still angry and shaky and scared of just how close I came to injuring or killing someone even 6 hours later.