When a Metro North commuter train derailed and was then struck by another train on Friday evening, everyone knew that today’s commute would be deeply affected. The train wreck just south of Bridgeport reportedly injured 70 people, and the investigation and cleanup are still ongoing. Governor Malloy has asked all commuters with the ability to stay home for the next few days to do so, and it appears that many people have taken that request seriously.
The human cost of the train crash should be at the top of the list of priorities. While we struggle with alternatives to the nation’s busiest train line, however, we should pause a moment to make sure the inconvenience doesn’t pile injury on top of misery by increasing the average number of serious or deadly car accidents we typically experience.
Statistically, when there are more cars and passenger vehicles on the road, it often means more accidents, as well. Statistical probability, however, doesn’t predict the future. What matters in terms of preventing car accidents is human behavior.
According to press reports, those who followed the commuting plan laid out by officials experienced about a half-hour to an hour-long delay. Meanwhile, I-95 south and other southbound driving alternatives experienced unusually heavy traffic. An increased State Police presence should help, but the most significant things we can do to prevent an increase in motor vehicle accidents during this frustrating time are to stay calm, leave plenty of time, stay alert and drive defensively.
Seventy people were injured in that train crash, which is a shock and a tragedy. Now that our usual commuting options have abruptly changed, many more people could be hurt in car accidents if we all don’t take a moment to think about that change.
Source: The Hartford Courant, “Heavy Traffic, But Metro-North Commuting Plan Went Smoothly,” Nicholas Rondinone and Jenny Wilson, May 20, 2013; Reuters, “Connecticut governor tells commuters to work from home this week while crash repaired,” Richard Weizel and Edith Honan, May 20, 2013