Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Up Periscopes: Major Cause of Underwater Entrapment

1/18/08, 8:05 PM EDT UPDATED: SPARTA, Ky. (AP) - Police ID 5 Dead in Submerged Car
The bodies of a family reported missing more than a week ago were found in a car submerged in a car in a northern Kentucky creek, police said Friday. ... The car was found Thursday in Eagle Creek in Gallatin County, near a sharp curve on a rural road about 30 miles southwest of Cincinnati. Authorities removed the car and found the bodies of two adults and three children inside. ...there were no guardrails between the highway and the water, but nine orange and white construction barrels marked the spot where the car was pulled from the creek.

You have probably read the news recently: 'Shocked' federal investigators say a flawed design allowed the [Minneapolis's Interstate 35W bridge] span to collapse. But what triggered the deadly failure still isn't known.

Over the last fifty years, around fifteen thousand people have perished due to vehicle entrapment drowning according to numerous sources. ... These people followed the ever shrinking air bubble until it was gone. They died, minutes later. .. It is probable that some of the people that died at the I-35W bridge collapse were trapped inside their car with no other, or minor injuries. They tried their doors and they would not open. They tried their windows, and they would not open. Their vehicles filled with water. As they tried their windows again, the water rose. - Lonny MacDougall, Egression Technologies LLC

MacDougall makes excellent points in proposing (for just 'pocket change per vehicle') providing all people trapped in vehicles with the means to break a side window and exit through the opening, when, and only when, they are ready. Read his whole (about a page) rationale here.

By 1993 (about 15 years before I-35W collapsed, but after those 15,000 people had drowned) the U.S. had 575,583 highway bridges. Of that number 21% had been determined Structurally Deficient and another 35% otherwise Deficient. source Note - This does not mean that the deficient bridges are about to collapse or that they are unsafe. With proper load posting, roadway striping, signs, signals, roadside barriers, crash cushions, and other changes, our bridges can continue to serve traffic needs, albeit not to the desired level. - James Hall, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board - March 11, 1996. source

The evolved method used by policymakers and health & safety executives to determine acceptable risk levels for public concerns like asbestos, radiation, bridges, etc. is called ALARP, described here in all the detail you probably wish. By the way, when properly performed ALARP passes muster with lawyers.

Strange, the major cause of underwater entrapment is not submarines, but hasn't it been silent just the same?



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