Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Belgian bus "accident": were tunnel's designers clueless?

GENEVA (AP) - A tour bus slammed into a tunnel wall in the Swiss Alps in a horrific accident that killed 22 school children and six adults returning to Belgium from a joyous ski vacation, police said Wednesday.
The bus was carrying students from two towns - Lommel, east of Antwerp, and Heverlee, near Leuven. In the tunnel, it veered, hit a curb, then rammed into a concrete wall, police said.
"The bus hit the barrier stones on the right side of the road. It then hit the tunnel wall head on in an emergency stop space," police said in a statement. 
from Swiss bus crash kills 28, including 22 children

This should have been made impossible, by designing the pull-out space's wall with a gradual transition back into the main wall.  However, recall that obvious safety measures had not been implemented in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel, making the "accident" which killed Princess Diana possible.

This is also another reminder of the insanity of our dependence on the "pragmatic" rubber-on-asphalt paradigm in which vehicles careen out of control unless the driver prevents it from happening.  Opponents of maglev always point to the high initial cost, while hiding the long-term cost savings and benefits.