5 things to do if you get ‘coal rolled’ in your Prius

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Don’t coal roll me, dude.
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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

I’m the proud owner of a 2011 Prius, but I knew when I bought the car that I was at risk.

Not for ridicule from a bunch of “car guys” – my $18 monthly fill-ups means that they don’t have much of an argument, and besides, my other car is sometimes a Ferrari.

No, I was aware that I could get “coal rolled.”

What, you might ask, is coal rolling? Before you start thinking that it involves zombie Dickensian chimney sweeps or bands of angry miners imitating Ric Astley, let me explain. It’s what happens when somebody with a big ole diesel pickup truck skirts the emissions regulations in his or her state and rigs their ride to spew great plumes of black exhaust smoke – just like the trucks at truck-and-tractor-pull competitions.

The New York Times recently ran a story about the practice.

As it turns out, because all Prius owners are somehow bent on getting big, smoke-belching trucks off the roads, we’re often targets for coal rolling.

“Depending on whom you ask, rolling coal is a juvenile prank, a health hazard, a stand against rampant environmentalism, a brazen show of American freedom,” the Times’ Hiroko Tabuchi wrote. “Coal rollers’ frequent targets: walkers, joggers, cyclists, hybrid and Asian cars and even police officers. A popular bumper sticker reads ‘Prius Repellent.'”

According to the Times, the state where I live, New Jersey, has banned coal rolling and leveling $5,000 fines on truck owners who do the dirty deed.

So I might not have much to worry about. But if you are under coal-rolling threat elsewhere, here are some ways you can respond:


1. Right after you get coal rolled, point out that the plume of acrid black smoke was impressive, but that the one the guy hit you with last week was much, much bigger. Better luck next time!

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Screenshot via YouTube/ArtTrucks

2. Flatter the coal roller’s higher sense of self and better station in life. When the coal rolling is over, ask politely if you might borrow some Grey Poupon.

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Youtube/ATCRyderX

3. Put your Prius in “Power Liftoff Mode” and fly away. Yes, that’s right: when under threat of coal rolling, Toyota designed the Prius to be a flying car.

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Actually this is a Terrafugia Transition flying car, but you get the idea.
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Screenshot via Terrafugia

4. Activate the top-secret Prius carbon molecular transducer, which will immediately transform that awesome surge of black diesel smoke into a fine pink cloud that smells pleasantly of roses. You just pull the shift lever three times, toward “B,” to activate.

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

5. Engage “Coal Roller Defense Mode,” which will filter the smoke plume and ensure that the air inside your Prius is hospital grade. Toyota borrowed this technology from Tesla as part of a closely guarded intellectual-property sharing agreement.

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Okay, not really, but wouldn’t that be cool?
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Justin Gmoser/Business Insider