Skip to comments.Massive pileup shuts I-10 in Texas; 2 dead
Posted on 11/22/2012 8:20:56 PM PST by prairiebreeze
BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) Two people died and more than 80 people were hurt Thursday when at least 100 vehicles collided in Southeast Texas in a pileup that left trucks twisted on top of each other and authorities rushing to pull survivors from the wreckage.
The collision occurred in extremely foggy conditions at about 8:45 a.m. Thanksgiving Day on Interstate 10 southwest of Beaumont, a Gulf Coast city about 80 miles east of Houston.
A man and a woman were killed in a Chevy Suburban SUV crushed by a tractor trailer, the Texas Department of Public Safety told KFDM-TV.
Officials at Acadian Ambulance service said at least 51 people have been taken to area hospitals and at least eight are critically hurt.
According to DPS, a crash on the eastbound side of the highway led to other accidents in a dangerous chain reaction. There were multiple crashes on the other side of the highway as well.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Deputy Rod Carroll told The Associated Press the fog was so thick that deputies didn't immediately realize they were dealing with multiple accidents.
"It is catastrophic," Carroll said. "I've got cars on top of cars."
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Every time I read about another 100+ car pileup in Texas I just can’t figure out how it could happen. I mean, if the roads are icy, don’t you slow down? If there is limited visibility from fog, don’t you slow down?
Fog like that on a busy multilane interstate, you don’t know what to do. Keep moving and hit somebody, stop and get hit. I guess you could try to pull over as far right on the emergency lane as possible, exit the vehicle and get behind the guardrail until the fog clears. Not much else you can do.
I have been in one white-out here, in which I could not figure out what to do - luckily I was NOT on a highway, and it soon passed, but I literally could see nothing outside my cr except white everywhere, and it all looked the same. It was very dis-orientating. I imagine thick fog would be similar. BTW, these things (fog) happen in other parts of the country too. One thing that MIGHT help is for everyone to slow down, but not too suddenly (or no one vehicle should slow down too suddenly, unless all do).
I’ve only experienced whiteout conditions once in my life while driving, it is similar. I was on whatever interstate goes north from Minneapolis to St. Cloud, wind kicked up and boom, couldn’t see a blessed thing other than the tail lights of the car directly in front of me. Followed them off the edge of the pavement and nearly got the rental stuck.
Do people really need speed limit signs to have half a brain when road conditions are crappy?
The fog was an issue, but all things considered really a rather minor one until the sun in all its glory popped over the east horizon. The unusually and immediate bright light, hitting the fog blinded the drivers and it was impossible for them to see anything. Initial reaction under these extreme circumstances is fear and I am sure people’s first instinct was to hit their breaks. From there on it was all downhill. Spotty ground fog is pretty common all throughout our area, not a really big deal and something you adjust to. This situation was more like something you might see every 20 years or so.
I-10 is a major artery across the U.S. and has a WHOLE LOT of truck traffic, sometimes wall to wall. The drive to/from Houston and Beaumont has never been one for the faint of heart.
Fortunately we don’t have a whole lot of ice in Houston but when it gets to around 40 degrees we have black ice on all of the overpasses and bridges, of which there are many. There presents a whole other set of problems.
Reduced speed limit precedes the fog bank, so yes, it’s reduced injuries and fatalities considerably. It serves as a warning system, seeing the speed limit drop and if it drops a lot, you know it’s bad before you’re in the thick of it, can’t even see the lines on the road and can’t decide whether to keep moving so you won’t get hit, or stop so you won’t hit somebody.
So sorry for those who died or were injured.
We deal with something called Tule Fog here in California’s Central Valley — when I first saw this story I assumed that was where the pile-up took place. The fog is SO thick you can’t see to the end of the hood of your car!! I remember my father once getting out of the car and walking along the right side front fender guiding my mother until we could exit the freeway.
Highway Patrol says to move over to the right as quickly and carefully as possible, put your tire on the white line along the right side of the right line and follow it until you find an exit and then get off the freeway. They also
recommend NOT getting out of your car, apparently you’re safer inside than out.
Back in my truck driving days I had a similar situation in Oklahoma. Visibility went from great, to none. It’s a very lonely feeling. On one hand, I knew I could pull over to the shoulder and I would be fine but if I pulled over, there was a decent chance a car would rear-end my trailer. I did not want to be partially responsible for killing anyone.
I never did pull over, I slowed to 50 and prayed. Got lucky....
The pile ups happen because someone slowed down. As much as you want to, you don’t slow down in fog. I hate driving in dense fog. It is the worst. One time I just took a chance that what I saw was an exit. Luckily it was. Until then I just followed the tall lights of a truck in front of me at 50 mph.
50 seems to be the speed
Doesn’t it depend on the extent of the fog? The incident I described as having experienced (in the EXACT same vicinity of SE Texas, thirty years ago), you could not SEE the road in front of the car’s hood. The hood ornament was almost unseeable. Seriously. The only way to even stay on the road was going around ten miles per hour, with my head half-outside the car window, just to spot the stripes on the road. And the highway was a virtual levee, with swampy marshlands on both sides. Nowhere to turn off. Hair-raising experience. Worst I’ve ever encountered, bar none. Unreal.
Wow.. Good luck, pal.
Advise that at least 98 drivers in this wreck followed.
I’ve been in it before. I could see one stripe in the road in front of me and the tail lights intermittently of the truck in front of me. If someone had stopped, or if I had stored it would have been a pile up. You don’t stop in fog.slow, don’t stop. It ain’t a great option but there is no other.
I should have said you dont stop, not that you dont slow
Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.
Reduce your speed -- and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.
Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.
Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.
Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.
Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. If your car stalls or becomes disabled, turn your vehicle's lights off, and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the vehicle to avoid injury.
From another source,http://www.drive-safely.net/driving-in-fog.html
Sometimes, foggy conditions just becomes too thick. You know your limits. If you find that you're exceeding your comfort zone, it might be best to stop until the fog lifts. But this is an extremely dangerous situation! If you can't see, either can anyone else. Try to get as far off the road as possible. Pull into a driveway, parking lot, rest area, side street, or any other place where you can get away from heavy traffic flow. But if the roadway shoulder is your only option, pull way over. Go into the grass if necessary. If there's a curb, drive over it and park on the other side of the curb. Stay buckled up and turn your lights off! If you leave your lights on, people might think you are driving on the roadway and rear-end you. Make sure your foot is off the brake pedal, and do not use your flashers. Keep all your lights off. If there is shelter nearby, try to get there quickly. Otherwise, stay in your car and stay buckled up.
I had two occasions like that: one was in Spain, where I had to look down through my opened driver's door to look down to follow the center line. While creeping along, it didn't occur to me that someone elsecoming from the opposite directioncould have the same idea!
The other was recently in Florida, needing to cross a 4-lane highway. I rolled both windows down and listened for traffic before crossing. :-/
Here is a link describing the various state DOT efforts and countermeasures dealing with highways prone to poor visibility, fog in particular.
The automated, visibility controlled variable speed limit system in use for decades on I-40 west of Asheville, NC is described in some detail including early bugs in the system as well as cost of implementation.
Many states have similar efforts.
Texas had no countermeasures in place, according to the study.
In Jan of this year Hwy 73 which is a few miles south and runs parallel to IH-10 had a major pileup of vehicles (79 or so). Apparently fog and smoke from burning marsh grass causing limited visibility was a factor.
Is there a paper mill nearby? That’s one thing I noticed reading through the link I posted, just how many fog prone areas were near paper mills.
The road J&P traveled to see their sister, Sarah?
Zero visibility in a matter of seconds does not compute with most people.
Twice I have seen a fog hit so quick and heavy, that it obstructs your visibility
to half way down your hood, and within seconds.
Once it was in a very rural area northwest of Houston by about an hour - but
in a low lying area, and the other time it occurred about 45 miles outside of
Both times it lifted enough to see 10-15ft past the hood within minutes,
but both hit so rapidly there was barely enough time to pull off onto the shoulder.
Lot of rice fields in that area.
Closest mill would be some 35 miles or so north but dense fog is a fairly common thing all along the IH-10 corridor TX, LA, MS, etc when the atmospheric conditions are right.
They call it an interstate highway for a reason.
When you are smart enough to know what that means, they maybe we’ll listen to your comments.
Now go back to your tricycle, and don’t leave the driveway.
You might want to lay off the insults unless you know who you are talking to.
Sorry, I didn’t know you were commenting on your own driving skills, I thought you were commenting on the driving skills of the rest of us in the state.
Stick to your tricycle when there’s fog. The rest of us will be safer.
Every light rain causes accidents in all the large cities on the interstates.
You might want to lay off the insults.
Considering the proximity of Beaumont to the LA border, and the fact that IH-10 is the southern route for truck traffic and vacationers, I'll bet you a dollar to a donut that there were numerous casualties from non-Texas residents.
You might want to take your own advice.
A light rain on city streets is far worse than a heavy rain.
A heavy rain washes the crap off the street, a light rain turns it into what can best be described as grease.
It happens everywhere, not just Texas.
There’s a spot south of Flagstaff (AZ) where this periodically happens... You’re on an 8,000+ foot mountain with just a little guard rail to keep you from going over the edge. The fog came up on us so fast that we could barely get over to the edge of the road. Luckily, someone was pulled off ahead of us too and we just had enough shoulder. It was the scariest thing ever. We kept our seatbelts on and just prayed we didn’t get hit (well, not like the seatbelts would have helped much going over that much mountain, but still).
Yesterday morning, because of the lay of the land, visibility from my front porch was about a half mile looking east and less than 100 yards looking west. I could make out the top of the trees at 75 yards.
Patchy fog in this area is like hitting a wall, it's just that fast and people just don't get it.
If it's a ground fog a truck driver in his cab may be above the heavy fog line. His visibility will be completely different than a driver in a small car.
Even the best driver isn't prepared for it.
With the number of trucks involved most probably were from out of state.
Doesn't stop the snarky comments though does it.
I was behind this pile-up yesterday, going to a relative’s house for Thanksgiving. I can’t say what the fog was like at the point of the pile-up, because we never made it that far, but the fog we went through was NOT zero visibility. We could see at least a quarter of a mile, and had no problem seeing the cars in front of us for a good way.
Perhaps 30 minutes before we came upon the road block and were diverted onto another highway, my husband commented that people were driving too fast in the fog and he made it a point to back off and leave a greater distance between our vehicle and the ones ahead of us.
There were at least 5 cars of people at our Thanksgiving dinner that had planned to travel that stretch of highway that morning, not in a caravan, all separately. Fortunately, we all made it through without being involved, and were just detoured and delayed by few minutes.
Closest I can come to describing it would be to imagine everybody’s headlights suddenly shut off, there are no street lights, no light of any kind, you’re just in a sort of limbo, you get disoriented and couldn’t tell whether you were up, down or sideways. You can hear tires screeching, crashes and people yelling, but you have absolutely no clue where they are.
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Wow, I don't think I would have been brave enough to cross that four-lane highway.
What I always loved when I lived in snow country was not being able to see past the inside of the windshield. when that happened I would drive looking out the passenger side window to guage how close I was to the guarde rail to make sure I kept driving straight.
Really glad I no longer have to drive all those miles for a living.
Well, I was driving to a major automobile race track to instruct beginning race car drivers. ;)
Yeah, I’ve had that happen to me just south of Flagstaff too.
But the worst case I ran into was just south of Denver on I-25 on Monument Pass. Not much of “pass” by Colorado standards, actually pretty similar to interstate just south of Flagstaff, just windy enough that there’s some blind corners where you can enter the corner in full clear and run into a zero visibility fog bank in the middle of the turn.
And just like Flagstaff, just a little band of Armco between you and a several hundred foot drop.
Yikes! I forgot to say that was I-17 (as you know) — and you’d think it would be marked. There are so many spots marked “icy bridge” or “watch for ice” or whatever — maybe “watch for fog” would be helpful. I had no idea it was so common there, until after it happened to us and then all of our friends said “oh yeah, that happened to us too.” (We only go up there about once every couple of years.)
Oh, scary about Denver.
I’m sorry I’m replying so late to your comment, PNSN. After Sarah’s passing, I gradually felt the energy drain out of my body, and I’ve been resting for long periods. Yes. This was the same section of I-10 on which Joe and Paula were traveling, although they were farther west when the pileup occurred. If they had departed from home a little later, they might have been involved. I will never forget the wonderful outpouring of prayer and concern over the past few days and neither will they. There is much to be done in El Paso, as the body must be transported to New Mexico for the funeral. Paula is the eldest, the executor, and an attorney, so she is busy and that is good. I will have some final news and “thank you’s” from the family in a few days. You are on my ping list for Sarah, PNSN. Thank you, and God bless!