Rain and Following Too Close Contribute to 41–Car Interstate Pileup

During a heavy mid-August rainstorm, a simple two-car accident turned into a horrific 41-car pileup that injured 10 people in central Virginia. The massive collision on Interstate 81 near Lexington involved six tractor-trailer trucks. State police indicated that the pileup started because drivers could not see two disabled vehicles that were blocking parts of the freeway.

Heavy rains are common in Virginia, and the storm that contributed to the I-81 accident limited drivers’ visibility. Some drivers were speeding even though some could not see farther than 20 feet.

Bad weather is a significant factor in auto crashes. Drivers should turn on their lights in rainstorms so that others can see them. Drivers should also bear in mind that sheets of water on the road can cause a car to hydroplane and become nearly impossible to control.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles instructs drivers to increase following distance from three to six seconds during inclement weather.

Investigators indicated that some truckers drove off the road and rolled over to avoid plowing into the pile up. Trucks, which weigh up to 80,000 pounds loaded far outweigh cars and other vehicles on the road and can cause catastrophic injuries to occupants of other vehicles. These truck drivers saved lives and kept other motorists from being injured or killed.

Public officials are striving to use the I-81 accident to raise traffic safety awareness. I-81 is very congested interstate near Lexington, and this lesson is about driving safely on busy roads during poor weather conditions.

Even the safest drivers can get into car crashes, motorcycle wrecks and other auto collisions. Bad weather and reckless drivers can be a deadly combination.