UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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We’ve harped on how reduced visibility calls for changes in driving habits in the past. Reduced visibility means great reductions in reaction time, and thus, speed has to be adjusted to a lower rate to compensate. Sometimes visibility is so low that roads will be blocked from traffic, as was the case this weekend.
Police had closed a stretch of Interstate 75 because of reduced visibility brought upon by a thick soup of fog combined with a brush fire. The road was reopened by authorities sometime around 3:30 am yesterday, and the massive pileup took place some 15 minutes later. Reports indicate as first responders arrived on scene, the limited visibility actually prohibited rescue efforts.
Rescue workers had to find victims from the pile up by listening for audible cues, such as crying and screaming. The crashes took place in both north and southbound lanes near Gainesville. At least a dozen cars and six tractor-trailers were involved in the incidents, and 10 fatalities are confirmed.
Because of the large number of commercial vehicles involved, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has investigators on scene, although the agency hasn’t officially joined the investigation of the gruesome incident as of yet. We’re certain, based on the condition of the scene, that there will be many questions raised, such as why the decision to reopen the road was made if visibility was as poor as reported, especially since police had closed the road for that exact reason hours before.
Our hearts go out to the families of the 10 who lost their lives, and we hope the ultimate lesson everyone takes away from this is to slow down or even choose to not drive even further limited in the dark of night by fog or other conditions.