Friday, July 29, 2005

What Caused This Devastating Crash?

The investigation into this morning's fatal crash in a Hartford suburb (alternate link) has only just started. But emergency personnel speculate that a truck that was traveling down Avon Mountain had a brake failure. It lost control and crossed into oncoming traffic.

I can predict what the investigation's outcome will be. The blame will rest on some combination of excessive speed, mechanical failure or operator error.

I bet you no one will blame the road.

The road (and intersection) is designed to produce just this kind of accident. No rational-minded person would decide to place a large intersection at the bottom of a steep hill, just where vehicles would be at their highest speed, and then angle the road in such a way that those cars are aimed at opposing traffic.

In fact the road over Avon Mountain, like many roads in the Northeast, was established back in colonial days. Early settlers used it to get over the mountain. As more powerful vehicles came onto the scene, the road was widened and paved, but not substantially redesigned to accommodate the faster traffic flow.

The governor's response was laughable -- reduce and enforce the speed limit. I'm sorry Ms. Rell, but a truck that's lost its brakes isn't able to do swat about its speed. Someone needs to either move the intersection or flatten the road before the next killer truck descends the mountain.

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