We live in a world of immediacy. We want our news now. The Internet delivers. Shippers want their goods now. Lean supply chains -- slow-steaming and a morass of regulatory challenges, notwithstanding -- keep those goods flowing.
But there comes a time when speed -- speed to market or speed to destination -- interferes with productivity.
This painful reminder came during an excruciating, 3 ½-hour, 60-mile morning commute along some of New Jersey's most-traveled highways on Jan. 26 -- during a snow event that by Northeast U.S. standards could only be described as mild. This wasn't the Christmas week blizzard that dumped 20 inches of winter precipitation. This wasn't even the more intense Nor'easter that hit later the same day.
No, this was a quick-hit clipper that dropped 3 or 4 inches across a wide swath of the state -- and it brought highway travel to a standstill. Why? Because in our haste -- in our quest for speed to destination -- we've thrown caution and safety to the wind.
For this 20-year commuter who thought he'd seen it all, it's seldom been worse. Yes, there are more cars, trucks and motorcycles on the roads, recession or not. Yes, we face a massive road and rail infrastructure problem. But that's just part of the story: We have an obsession with speed, and speed kills.
High-speed rail? Anyone?
-- Contact Chris Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org .