Highway pileups are one of the scariest types of road accidents most people can imagine. Just picture this: you’re flying along the highway between 60 and 80 mph, when suddenly a patch of fog blinds you. Should you stop? Slow down? Just keep coasting? And it might not even matter what you do — if the car in front of you decides to stop, you might not even have time to react before rear-ending them. This crash, in turn, can cause a chain-reaction that spans dozens or even hundreds of vehicles.
Interestingly enough, the largest pileups (by number of cars involved) are not always the deadliest. This may be due to different kinds of road conditions being the culprit — severe snow and rain are more often the cause of larger scale accidents, but traffic might already be moving slower when the crash occurs. Deadly pileups are more often caused by fog, dust storms, and sand storms, which are less predictable.
The best way to avoid a pileup is to exercise common sense — if the weather is terrible, maybe you should stay home, or find an alternate route. If you must travel, drive a speed that is safe for the road conditions, leave plenty of room in front of you, and whatever you do, don’t come to a sudden stop if your visibility drops.
An infographic by CJ Pony Parts.