Tragedy on Indian Head Highway

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The tragic deaths on Indian Head Highway in Accokeek this weekend [front page, Feb. 17] were another stark reminder of why street racing is a fool's game.

Normally it is the racers themselves who cause any deaths at such events, either of themselves or of bystanders. But in this instance bystanders died because they apparently poured into the middle of the highway to watch the participating cars speed away, taking no account of the fact that they were standing with their backs turned to the direction of traffic in a 55 mph lane, with heavy smoke between them and any approaching vehicles. I hate to "blame the victims" here, but what were they thinking?

The driver who hit them, whether he had his headlights on or not, could not have been expected to anticipate that there might be people on the other side of a cloud of smoke. We've all driven through a fog bank or dust cloud before, and most of us probably would not slow out of concern that someone might dare to stand in our lane on the other side of it. I'm sure this person feels just awful, as do the families of the dead. But this accident was preventable on so many levels.

My first reaction to the news was, why are people, some of them with young children, hanging out on the street at 3 a.m.? I can think of few good reasons to be out on the street at that hour. Had better sense been exercised, people would still be alive today who are not.

I'm very sorry for these losses, but some actions invite tragedies. Anyone could see this would be one.




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