Sunday, March 04, 2007

The bubble-wrapped life.

So, as everybody is no doubt painfully aware, a bus driver who was (at least metaphorically) asleep at the switch played Evel Knievel on the Northside Drive exit in Atlanta on Friday, depositing his bus across four lanes of I-75 South and six of its occupants, including himself, on the far side of the pearly gates.

The hand-wringing has now officially kicked into high gear, with fickle fingers of blame looking for somewhere to point. CNN's reporter breathlessly reports that the bus "was not equipped with an electronic data recorder that might have provided more information about the last seconds before the fatal crash". Well no duh, there, Clouseau; this was a Bluebird, not the friggin' Concorde. And just what good would the data recorder do, anyway? It would tell us that the driver went tooling up the off-ramp, blew through the stop sign at the top, didn't hit his brakes, and attempted to set a new record for tour bus jumping off the far side. Your eyes can tell you that with a simple glance at the skidmark-free pavement. No doubt some bright spark of a legislator is going to want to put black boxes in busses now, however.

Attention is also being focussed on the design of the off-ramp. Apparently putting a stop sign at the top and a guard rail between the overpass and the wild blue yonder beyond it isn't enough to protect the unwary or incompetent. Long-suffering Atlanta commuters, despite successfully negotiating the same intersection a bazillion times every day, will probably have to put up with having their commutes re-routed as the intersection is redesigned to be able to thwart a higher grade of idiot.

Okay, fine; I'm on board. No cost is too great, no burden too heavy, no tax too high to keep us all safe from the consequences of our actions. We must not rest until everything is carefully swathed in bubble wrap and blinking safety lights.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"We must not rest until everything is carefully swathed in bubble wrap and blinking safety lights."

Yeah, that's a great idea - the Boston Bomb Squad will mistake it for a "terrorist device" and blow it up!

The Old Man said...

Paper today said that isn't the first time by about 82 someone was confused by the left exit. Several fatalities prior, also. The left side exit is not one of my faves, because it is rare.

Examination of the offramp may be in order. Don't think that's out of line...

steelghost said...

If you look at every intersection that goes off the highway to the left you will find an increased number of accidents at that intersection, period. There is some blame to be lain at the feet of the engineer who thinks that people are smart enough to follow directions. I'm sure everyone has seen, and maybe even been that genius who went the wrong way at least once. ATL has always had traffic problems, so this isn't a surprise, just something to remember anytime one travels there.

Anonymous said...

The off ramp/intersection was designed and built by gov't. 'Nuff said.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

I think I know which intersection that was. I can actually understand the confusion...

...but that doesn't say that anything ought be done other than backing the signs off a half mile or so and clarifying the lines.

pdb said...

Gloopstick!

Dr. StrangeGun said...

http://www.posterboard.tv/misc/buscrash75.jpg

There's the intersection. I look at that, and remember it, and now I'm 100% on Tam's side. Something was wrong with the driver... yes, the signage was short but that rises pretty steeply up to the overpass and at 60mph he's got about 9 seconds to figure out "hey, sumpin' ain't right" and hit the brakes.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

FECK.

http://www.posterboard.tv/misc/buschcrash75.jpg

Maybe that's prescience there. Or I just need a beer.

Anonymous said...

Can..barely....breathe...too much...bubble ...wrap gasp!


Tokarev

aepilot_jim said...

But Tam, don't you know, none of us are responsible for anything. Especially our own actions. It's always the fault of someone else, no matter how far removed they were from the situation.

triticale said...

It could, on the other hand, turn out that the driver had a heart attack. In that case, the solution will be to equip all busses with a defibrillator...

Darrell said...

A wise old German engineer once told me, "you cannot make something idiot proof".

Anonymous said...

I live in the ATL, and the left side exits are for the HOV lanes ONLY. I seriously doubt that exit has more accidents than usual, and i can tell you that there are 5 or 6 lanes of N'side drive to cross as well, before you complete the Dukes of Hazzard maneuver.

Tam said...

Oh, I lived in ATL myself until recently, and somehow managed to negotiate that exit many times without going ballistic.

The fact that I was on a motorcycle may have helped by keeping me from talking on my cellie or applying makeup while doing so...

David said...

don't you know that blinking lights can cause epileptic seizures??

my god woman!!

Anonymous said...

Personal insight...
The driver was a relative of mine. Very solid guy, grew up on farms. He would not have approved of adding "bubble wrap", blinking lights, or black boxes; pre or post-accident.
Initial reports state nothing wrong with the bus, so I can only believe that he was sleeping (~5:30 AM) or had a medical problem. Sleeping seems remote since (as I understand it) the bus had just started for the morning. As others have reported with their first-hand knowledge of the ramp, inattentiveness would have to occur for quite a while for a driver not to realize that brakes were needed and the ramp design, while poor, does seem to give plenty of warning.

Billy Hollis said...

darrell, in software we have our own version of that German quote:

The software world is a race between developers creating more idiot-proof systems, and the universe creating bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.