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Boring highway puts drivers to sleep - Monday, August 23, 1999

RE.: 'Carnage Alley: killer highway or deadly drivers?' (August 8, 1999)
Toronto Star, Letters to the Editor

As a driver-trainer, I am surprised that common sense has not yet answered the "Why?" regarding the deadliness of the fabled section of Highway 401.

The answer might seem to be very mundane. When the 401 was built years ago, engineers took a very straight line, the shortest distance from London to Windsor.

Unfortunately, this road is so monotonous and boring that it puts people to sleep. A driver does not have to be tired to become a victim. Drivers nod off or become dozy, and lose track of their direction. Brain impairment sets in, and the drivers are unable to respond in time to avoid an emergency.

Most accident investigators are poorly trained to recognize fatigue-related collisions. Perhaps the only solid clue is the lack of braking on behalf of the driver precipitating the emergency.

Once the vehicle drops off the road, some drivers recover their senses. A realization of panic sets in, and illogical choices are made about the method of recovery. An emotional response, rather than a cool logical one, in most cases results in a horrific crash.

Highway 401 needs to be made more challenging whereby there is more participation behind the wheel.

Right now, most drivers are just going along for the ride and losing concentration on the driving task.

Dez Miklós, Hamilton

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