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Race Car Instructor: Know Your Limits When Taking Turns

Metro-North Train Was Traveling 82 Mph At Bend, Investigators Say

LAKEVILLE, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — At any speed, the rules of the road are pretty simple: Take a turn too fast, and you won’t make it.

CBS 2’s Dick Brennan took to the track at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut with Skip Barber Racing School instructor Walter Irvine, who demonstrated the ins and outs of safe driving.

Irvine said when it comes to forward motion, whether on a racetrack or train track, you can’t fight physics.

The Metro-North Railroad train that derailed Sunday, killing four people and injuring 76 others, was traveling at 82 mph heading into a turn with a speed limit of 30, federal investigators said.

“The car has got three aspects: the radius, the grip (of the tires) and the speed,” Irvine said. “A train has only one thing that can be altered, and that’s the speed.”

And what about trying to take a hairpin turn too fast?

Irvine said every road has a speed limit, whether it’s posted or not.

When he and Brennan took a sharp turn at 60 mph, Irvine explained, “It’s gently sliding on all four tires around the corner.”

When they made a turn at nearly 70 mph, there was more sliding, but the car held.

“When you make that turn, you really feel the force up against your body,” Irvine said.

On their final turn, they deliberately pushed the car too far, attempting a turn at 82 mph before the car went screeching around the track.

“The car is not going to accept the radius,” Irvine explained. “We already know that because (of) we went through at 70.”

Irvine showed on scratch paper that drivers can caculate their maximum speed using algebra.

“It’s all mathematics based on physics,” he said.

And any kind of distraction — a text, a doze — can be the difference between life and death.

Experts say if you get into trouble during a turn, look in the direction you want to go and invariably you will then steer in the right direction.

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