Half mass times velocity

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2003

All of this discussion about speed on the Egan autobahn is a subterfuge to distract us from the real issue. What the police should be monitoring is kinetic energy, not speed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the top three vehicles sold in the U.S. in July were all multi-ton pickups - Silverado, F-Series and Ram. It is blatantly unfair that these monsters be allowed to run amok.

As we recall from physics class, (or, more accurately, look up on Google), kinetic energy equals 1/2 mass times velocity squared. In other words, the grosser the gross vehicle weight, the more bang for your truck.

Speaking from personal experience, I can assure you that getting hit by a pickup and getting hit by a motorcycle are qualitatively different experiences.

Under this improved system, tours buses will be forced to reduce their top speed to 15 mph, whereas my co-worker in her little red Chevette would be allowed to breeze along at 70 mph.

OK, this is already happening, but that just proves it should be codified into law.

I, too, like Bobbie Haffner (letters to the editor, Aug. 18) wish to grow to be an old woman and die in my bed and am taking steps to put myself out of harm's way. I have spoken to Capital Transit about this, and even though they are supposed to be one of the best bus systems in the nation, they have indicated that, while public transit has many benefits, this isn't one of them.

While the ideal solution remains a combination light rail-roller coaster ride from the Valley to downtown (Letters to the Editor, July 24, 2001), an adequate stopgap measure is the replacement of antiquated speed limits with more accurate kinetic energy limits.

Michael Christenson


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