On New Year’s Eve, a 30-car pileup on Interstate 5 near Fort Tejon left two dead and several other people injured. The crash happened during daylight hours, impacting traffic on the interstate for several hours. Have you ever wondered what leads to horrible crashes like this?
Multi-vehicle accidents comprise about one-third of crashes nationwide. Pile-ups are common on high-speed roads, such as freeways, as well as at intersections.
Particularly when high speeds are involved, it only takes a second-literally-for a pile-up to occur. Just a moment of distraction or one poor decision is all it takes to launch a chain reaction of glass, metal, and fuel.
Early on, investigators in the I-5 crash believed that fog may have played a part in causing the crash. Weather conditions, such as snow, fog, ice, and rain, can have many negative effects on the driving environment:
- making vehicles more difficult to control;
- reducing driver visibility; and
- altering the road surface (making it wet or slick).
In addition, some people become very nervous during poor weather conditions, reducing their ability to assess their environment, make solid decisions, and take quick action.
While Mother Nature is one major cause of pile-ups, driver decisions also frequently cause multi-car collisions. Speeding, impaired driving, following too closely, and distracted driving are all prime causes of crashes that involve multiple vehicles. The sad part is that all of these causes are completely avoidable.
Two other human factors that cause pile-ups are drowsy driving and medical conditions. All it takes is nodding off for a brief moment for a car to leave the road, stray from its path, or even head into oncoming traffic. Sometimes, medical conditions, such as heart attacks and seizures, cause pile-ups, as well.