Today's Lesson: Drive Too Fast on Bay Bridge S-Curve, and You Can Die

Categories: Local News
Some day, our bridge will come
There may yet be mitigating factors regarding this morning's fatal plunge by a speeding truck driver off the Bay Bridge's ungainly new S-Curve to Yerba Buena Island 200 feet below. But it seems that the takeaway is a message so simple that state authorities and the media have rapidly grown overbearing in their delivery of it: The speed limit on the bridge isn't a joke. And now, failure to obey it can result in a terrifying and heretofore undiscovered way to die.

If any useful purpose comes from what appears to be a senseless death of a driver whose only sin was to drive a shade too fast and miss a turn, it's to serve as an example for other motorists. This is the second truck to suffer a spectacular crash on the S-curve -- but the horrifying notion of soaring 200 feet off the Bay Bridge could well stick in drivers' minds. Everyone has taken a 40 mph stretch at 50, thinking "I can handle this." With the possibility of a nightmarish death being the result of a miscalculation, however, maybe people will just slow down.

And perhaps the bridge could use signage reminiscent of the stark warnings hikers find at Yosemite. I was shaken by a plaque ordering park-goers not to wander into a stream feeding into a nearby waterfall. In unadorned -- and therefore memorable -- text, the sign instructed hikers not to wade into the stream, as the current was deceptively strong. And: "If you go over the falls, you will die."

Would a sign reading "Speed Limit 40 -- or you could die" be justified? I think you can argue it would.

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