The Amtrak train derailment this week was truly tragic.
While we do not why the train was going so fast, it seems apparent that excessive speed was to blame for the accident.
Many people seem quick to place the blame on the engineer, before a full investigation has been completed.
What I find interesting is the likelihood that many of these same people may be guilty of what they are accusing the engineer of, operating a vehicle well above the speed limit.
I was driving home from the New Jersey shore yesterday, and as a very non-scientific experiment I decided to count either the number of cars that passed me, or that I passed, until I got to a total count of 50. The speed limits ranged from 45 to 65 during the course of the experiment, and I set my cruise control where I usually set it, at 7 miles above the speed limit.
The results were astonishing – 49 cars passed me, and I passed one!
It was particularly interesting what happened when the speed limit changed from 55 to 45 because of construction. Within less than 90 seconds, 16 cars had passed me. The signs indicating the decreased speed were quite obvious, and quite frequent.
The results of my experiment were pretty clear. People drive way too fast, and ignore the posted speed limits.
While I don’t think anyone was going more than double the speed limit, as the Amtrak train was, there seemed to be drivers going about 70 mph in the 45 mph zone. And this is where there are people working on the side of the road!
Plus, since you have cars going various speeds, the faster drivers are required to weave in and out of traffic, creating dangerous situations not only for themselves and their passengers, but for the other drivers, and workers, on the road.
Earlier this month a driver was killed and four construction workers were injured, two seriously, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan states, “This is a horrific trend, and it needs to stop now. Too many construction workers were sent to the hospital this week, and too many lives shattered. Though the cause of this morning’s disaster hasn’t yet been confirmed, experience tells us that speed and distraction are likely to blame.”
So I think if there is one lesson we can all learn from such tragedies is to slow down, no matter what kind of vehicle you are driving. Speed limits are there for a reason – they save lives.
My thoughts go out to all those affected by these tragedies.