The authors of this article explore the following paradox. Incident-specific decisions need to be reduced as far as practicable, but the pursuit of this aim could expose designers and operating staff to moral dilemmas. Serious incidents in tunnels are rare, but their frequency is not decreasing as much as designers, operators, and users would like. When incidents occur, planned responses are initiated to reduce risk, first to human life, then to tunnel and traffic. This often has acceptable results, but descriptions of the process usually show many things that did not go according to plan. This article explores two factors, human fallibility and human conscience, that contribute to this situation. First, two particular tunnel incidents are discussed, and one simple lesson is drawn from each. In the first, rational decisions led to six fatalities, in the absence of crucial information. In the second, one death occurred due to human error where there was adequate information; for mistakes to be avoided, the relevant information should come to mind at the right time and perfect physical and mental performance are needed. Several simple guidelines are proposed for the design of planned responses to incidents, a general policy approach is presented, and five specific conclusions are drawn.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:


    PO BOX 452
    KEMPSTON, BEDFORD,   United Kingdom  MK43 9PL
  • Authors:
    • Vardy, A
    • WRIGHT, K
  • Publication Date: 1999-5


  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00767197
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Aug 6 1999 12:00AM