Did you hear about the horrible trafficpileups on I-77 near Galax, Virginia on Easter Sunday in dense fog? 17 separate crashes, 95 involved vehicles three dead, 25 or so injured. These types of chain collision accidents are always so chilling because there is little you can do if you are caught in the middle.
Two cars collided with the same tractor/trailer; the drivers of both cars died. One other car rearended a tractor/trailer and the driver of that car died.
We like to think we are in control when we are driving. But the truth is, we aren't quite in as much control as we think.
My spouse and I are a bit familiar with that
stretch of road in the area bordering North Carolina and Virginia. It's the
route we take when we travel to or from North or South Carolina or Georgia, and
it's the route we took three weeks ago when we came back home from Florida.
When we traveled into the mountains of Virginia on I-77 for thev first time going south (in March of 2010) it almost took my breath away, it was
so beautiful. We stop at Mt. Airy, NC for the night (Andy Griffith's
birthplace) and then make the push south, or the push north. I-77 is beautiful,
but I never realized how deadly.
Two years ago we experienced that fog
and it's awful. There are large warning signs in several places warning
of fog danger. The danger comes at any time of day - the crashes started being reported at 1:17 p.m.
For all we do to make cars safer, you only can engineer human behavior so much. And the scary part? This isn't the first chain collision between mile markers 4 and 7 on I-77. Or the second. Or the third, or the fourth.
It is at least the 6th since 1997, many with fatalities.
This was only the biggest one, vehicle-wise, but another had 75 cars,another had 56 cars, and the list goes on. I think we can call this a "pattern".
(Gee, I'm glad I didn't know about the history of that stretch of road until today.)
So what is the solution?
It's easy to say people can't drive too fast for conditions. EVER. People underestimate how much their vision is impaired in fog. I lived in Florida for two winters back in the 1970's. Morning fog is common there so I do speak from experience.
Then you can say, those warning signs aren't roadside decorations! Neither are stop signs, curve ahead signs, or any other kind of warning sign. Folks?
And - how many drivers nowadays drive distracted - texting, talking on the phone, and so on? But some of these crashes date from years back.
Tractor/trailers on the road? Some would blame them. I wasn't at any of the collisions (thank heavens) so can't speak to that.
Can this road be engineered to reduce the incidents of fog crashes? I hope there is a solution, because I-77 is an important north-south road through the Appalachians.
In the meantime - you can never let your guard down, even on a beautiful stretch of highway. Ever.
Do you have a super-dangerous stretch of road where you live?