There is no comparable situation on a roadway...everyone who's operated a car knows what I'm talking about.
Actually I disagree. Car drivers have to watch 4-8 nearby cars (on an interstate in traffic) that can swerve or brake at any moment and then immediate evasive action is necessary. Car drivers often don't have pre-knowledge of the road they're driving, but must still do so safely. Cars have to merge with others, judge whether they can stop at a yellow, look out for bikers/pedestrians, negotiate puddles/ice, etc. I'd think unexpected obstructions/debris are more common on a roadway than railway.
Cars have steering wheels -- locomotives don't!
Yes NEC locomotives go faster and engineer must memorize the route. But with no other vehicles to consider, that shouldn't be such a difficult tradeoff.
If I'm wrong, please explain.
Philadelphia accident was caused by a human's confusion of location and speed limit. This is why I argue that more automation would assist human, fallible engineers. (Eventually automation will replace the humans in such tasks, IMO.)