At least two people have been killed and more than 50 injured people have been sent to Madison area hospitals after more than 100 vehicles collided in foggy conditions on Interstate 90 on Madison’s east side on Sunday afternoon, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol. The pile ups involved two incidents, just south of Highway 12-18, with collisions occurring on both sides of the expressway.
Dane County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Bolch is saying that the crashes started as drivers began to slow in dense fog and were rammed by vehicles following from behind in a domino effect.
When foggy conditions develop on highways, drivers need to exercise extreme caution and need to be concerned about traffic from behind as much as hazards ahead. The Weather Channel’s website offers the following safety tips for driving in fog:
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.
As one public health commentator points out, drivers should not blame fog any more than pilots should blame the ground for airplane crashes. While the analogy is not quite right (drivers who embark on a trip often encounter fog without warning, while pilots presumably know that keeping some altitude is always a good idea) drivers who fail to take extra precautions once fog is encountered are at great peril, and may be negligently endangering themselves or others.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.