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When a speed limit is not the limit

Driving is complex activity that requires constant reassessment of all the factors that affect our ability drive safely. We are all supposed to follow speed limit signs, but it is never as simple as merely staying under those speed limits.

But speed limits on roads in Connecticut assume that optimal conditions apply. That the roads are dry and there is good visibility. While traveling at 65 miles per hour may be reasonable on a balmy mid-afternoon in June, driving at that speed during a snow or ice storm in January would completely unreasonable. 

They also assume that traffic conditions favorable. If construction or another accident has slowed traffic by blocking lanes or leaving debris on the roadway, driving the posted speed limit is may become extremely dangerous.

Police have not indicated what they believe caused a fatal car accident in Shelton, but it appears weather was a contributing factor. Thick fog covered the area when a vehicle went out of control and struck a tree along the road. The driver and front seat passenger survived, but the passenger in the backseat was ejected and died at the accident scene.

Speed was also suspected to be a factor, but in thick fog, one could be driving under the speed limit and still be going too fast.

It was unclear from the report if the ejected passenger was wearing a seat belt, but this accident again highlights the danger of death when a vehicle occupant is ejected. That man was struck by a passing vehicle as his body was thrown on to the driving lanes of the road.

Police believe the man who was ejected was dead before he was struck, but anyone who had survived an ejection and lands in the traffic lanes is at great risk of being killed by other passing vehicles.

WTNH.com, "Route 8 in Shelton reopens after deadly crash," wtnhkentpierce and Alex Ceneviva, April 6, 2015

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