Monday’s big rig crash off the Bay Bridge’s S-curve detour was, I was surprised to discover, the 43rd traffic incident on that new section of roadway, which was installed over the Sept. 5-7 Labor Day holiday weekend. Granted, the majority of the incidents were fender-benders, but still, 43 in two months?

The California Highway Patrol says the driver of the big rig, which was carrying a load of peaches, headed into the curve at around 50-mi-per-hour; the speed limit was changed to 40 mph on the new roadway (the rest of the bridge is 50). The truck’s load apparently shifted and the vehicle tipped over a 3-ft-high concrete railing and fell 200 ft down to Yerba Buena Island. The Hayward-based driver was killed instantly.

Now the family of the driver is saying the death is Caltrans’ fault (do we see a lawsuit a-brewin’?): The department should have put more safety systems on the roadway, the S-curve is too short, why have a detour like this in the first place?

Caltrans says it will install more safety features, including warning signs, reflective strips on the barriers and radar boards that flash drivers’ speeds. It also is considering installing grooved pavement.

However, Caltrans and the CHP say the main problem is that drivers are driving too darn fast (while probably texting, eating, putting on makeup, dressing – or undressing -- or singing quite horribly and loudly).

My suggestion is to reduce the speed limit for the entire bridge to 40 or even 35 mph. The problem is that this “temporary” detour is going to be around until the bridge opens in 2014. With an accident average of 5 per week, that’s a lot of bent steel and probably many more fatalities we’re looking at.

Anyway, take a look at the S-curve photo below and tell me what you think should be done.

blog post photo