Alan Rothstein was off base in his June 8 letter, "A Poorly Designed Road," in which he blamed the design of the ramp off I-95 North to the Capital Beltway for the June 2 accident involving the truck carrying 40,000 pounds of black powder.

The road did not cause the accident. I have been driving that stretch of highway for 28 years and have witnessed many accidents involving all types of vehicles, especially big trucks exactly where the latest event occurred.

The problem was not whether the ramp was elevated or anything structural; it was driver error. There is a lighted overhead sign a quarter of a mile before the exit ramp, and a 35 mph sign is posted at the ramp's entrance. I believe the driver of the truck was cited for speeding in excess of 65 mph and failure to secure equipment properly.

The American way seems to be to blame something or someone else for our ignorance. The simple solution to our growing traffic woes is common courtesy, obedience and strict enforcement of traffic laws and full attention to driving.

Will that ever happen? Never, so expect catastrophic events to become more and more common.



Here is a proposal that should minimize the possibilities of another hazardous-material disaster such as the recent one on I-95 at the mixing bowl.

Every vehicle transporting hazardous cargo entering Maryland and Virginia would have to have a Certificate of Roadworthiness (brakes, lights, tires and general mechanical condition) issued by a state inspection facility. This certificate would have to be renewed every 10,000 miles.

Such a vehicle would stop at the first state facility, perhaps a weigh station, and present its certificate of roadworthiness. At this time, the vehicle comes under the state department of transportation.

After evaluating current traffic conditions within the state, a route and time of departure would be given each vehicle. For vehicles with large, dangerous loads, a vehicle could be assigned to escort it to its destination within the state or to the state line. Both vehicles would have a two-way radio.

The next state would be notified of the estimated arrival at the state line. Hazmat teams along the route would be notified of all the hazmat vehicles transiting their areas of responsibility.

As a vehicle moves through the region and is passed from one jurisdiction to another, there would be positive control of hazmat vehicles. Vehicles that violated these procedures would be subject to criminal penalties.

This uncomplicated and inexpensive plan might save insurance costs for hazmat companies, and it could reduce the likelihood of having tons of gunpowder on the side of the road with tens of thousands of travelers at a dead stop.