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10 people hurt in massive 50-car highway pileup in NH. 20-25 cars had to be towed from I-93 scene

Sigh! What does it take to get people to slow down and drive carefully in bad weather?

We see this repeated over and over again. Whenever I’m forced to drive under bad conditions, I’m always in the right lane, moving slow, watching the idiots zoom by bumper to bumper.

Never been stranded on a freeway, must be a miserable experience.

Isn’t it amazing how so many people just…fly…down the road during inclement weather conditions? Like the OP, I try to stick to the right lane, keep my speed down, and leave a large distance between me and the vehicle in front.

The amount of misinformation out there regarding following distance is astounding. Just recently, a member of this forum urged somebody to follow “the two second rule”, despite the fact that the minimum safe following distance on a dry road is three seconds.

When driving in the rain, the minimum safe distance is 4 seconds, and on a snowy day, the minimum is 5 seconds. However, the percentage of drivers who actually follow that practice is very small–as evidenced by the accident statistics.

I’m sure no 4WD vehicles were involved in the initial accident. They can and do go 60 mph or more in inclement conditions because of the added control. Yeah, that’s the ticket…

And I hope our good friends @MikeInNH and @“the same mountainbike” we’re not involved.once the chain reaction starts, it’s hard to avoid being consumed by the chaos.

I wasn’t. I sincerely hope Mike wasn’t either.
I had plans yesterday, but after having some blood work done I chose to cancel my plans and go straight home. I’m glad I did.

Recent rains had washed all the sand and salt off the pavement, and the weather conditions caught the highway departments off guard. They hadn’t prepped the roads, and were not staffed to go out with the salt trucks necessary in a storm. The roads ended up being extremely bad. In short, it was a confluence of perfect conditions to create extremely bad roads.

@jtsanders, I assume you are being sarcastic. 4WD and AWD vehicles are no better than any others in braking or cornering in bad conditions. In fact, because of a false sense of security, they may cause more accidents than 2WD vehicles in bad conditions.

TSM: it was a confluence of perfect (bad) conditions AND poor drivers.

I’m quite sure that jtsanders was being sarcastic.

All too many 4WD/AWD owners think that they are invincible, and that leads to some incredibly bone-headed behaviors. On more occasions than I can count, I have been passed at very high speed–during a snowstorm–by some jerk in a 4WD Blazer, or Explorer, or Jeep, only to encounter them in a ditch several miles down the road, while I motor safely past them at a sane speed.

While I enjoy the benefit of having an excellent AWD system, I realize that it doesn’t make my Outback immune to the laws of physics. Now, if we could just teach that reality to some other folks, we would all be much safer on the roads.

Yeah. It’s strange (but probably basic human behavior) that 90% of humanity has no understanding of the basic laws of physics… the laws that govern all that is around us.

Exactly right @BillRussell.

I wasn't. I sincerely hope Mike wasn't either.

I wasn’t…However my neighbor wasn’t so lucky. She was right in it. Car is totaled. She said that she came around a corner…and there was a wall of cars in front of her about 1000 away. She was doing 40…but the road was glare ice. Hit the brakes…and abs kicked in…started to slow a little…then was hit by a car from her side. The another car hit her. It wasn’t like they all piled into each other…it was just a series of accidents all stemming from the first one near the weigh station.

BTW…this is NOT the first pileup in that area over the years. It’s a blind corner…and if the conditions are right (which they were yesterday)…then there’ll be more in years to come.

VDCdriver: Yes! Those pesky laws of motion strike again. When I pass the 4WD/AWD that was by far exceeding the ideal conditions safe speed and is now in the ditch I always give them a cheery honk and wave. I have long had a theory that the biggest advantage of 4WD is the capability to get stuck in more inaccessible places.

One reason this may happen is drivers are concerned if they slow down the cars behind them will bash into their rear end. It’s sort of a damned if you do and damned if you don’t thing.

Billrussell (and others), I’d generally agree that poor driving skills were a factor, but not in this case. There are times that even the best driving skills can’t keep you out of a jam, such as those described by Mike as related to him by his neighbor. Generally they fall into natural conditions, such as rock falls, earthquakes, tsunamis, and… unusual extreme weather-caused road conditions such as this. A few crashes or cars that skidded off the road could be attributed to poor drivers, but there were countless accidents, rollovers, and massive multicar pile ups. In this case I cannot agree to blame it on driver error. If I were to place any blame at all, and I’m reluctant to, I’d be inclined to place blame on the highway departments for lack of readiness. They assumed the national Weather Service’s predictions were correct, and nobody apparently realized that all the sand and salt had washed off the pavement from the recent rains.

There are disasters caused solely by nature. I’m inclined to accept this as one. I’m just glad I went home instead of going ahead with my plans, which would have had me on I-93.

TSM: After reading Mike’s comments, I tend to agree with you. Black ice is difficult.

BillRussell: Black ice. One of life’s surprises!

Many years ago I was driving on Rt2 west of 495 in the wee hours of the morning in January going slowly and carefully. My pickup slowly started to rotate on black ice and slid down off the crown of the road and off the edge, still rotating in slow motion. Fortunately, nobody else was on the road and the embankment past the soft shoulder was wide, its edge leading to a modest embankment. A bit later a cop pulled up to see if I was okay… he had slid on the same embankment, but having much better weight distribution (and more weight) than my little truck managed to keep it on the macadam. Sometimes s**t just happens.

On Dec 1 about 1978 was the worst I ever saw. Heading south out of Minneapolis and it was misting and right on the borderline of freezing. Within a mile it went from wet to glare ice and literally hundreds of cars in the ditches. I crawled along at about 5 mph in low gear to the nearest off ramp and coffee shop to wait for the salt trucks. This was with RWD, no posi, and no radials back then. Just caught everyone by surprise but I don’t recall many accidents but just everyone in the ditch. Just luck. Not much you can do on glare ice but when you start to spin, you are supposed to straighten your wheel, and look backward. You’ll go for a tilt-a-whirl ride but end up on the road facing the opposite direction. Never had to do it myself but that’s what the patrol says.

My own experience with black ice was in a Renault Dauphine, which tells you how long ago that was. Night, on a back road, came over the hill, saw a bunch of car lights in the valley below, and then discovered why they were there when the Renault started to do 360s. Wound up in the woods, just missing two trees.

“Wound up in the woods, just missing two trees.”

Just imagine what would have happened if you had hit a tree with that little tin box on wheels!
The combination of that car’s very flimsy construction and (I assume) no seatbelts would have led to some very serious injuries.

You were very lucky.