Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.

Fog bank causes 95 car pile up

An early spring fog led to a massive pileup on mountain highway in southwest Virginia. Nearly 100 cars were ensnarled in 17 mile stretch of chain reaction accidents. In what was viewed as a demolition derby, car after car slammed into each other, not being able to stop in time to avoid accidents.

Accidents occurring in fog are unfortunately very common. According to an ABC report, more than 20,000 car accidents occurred in the United States that were attributable to foggy conditions. These accidents killed more than 350 people and injured at least 10,000. In fact, a pile up similar to the Virginia accident occurred just after Thanksgiving on I-10 just east of Houston. The calamity injured more than 100 people and claimed the lives of two others.

Heavy fog banks are common during changing seasons (e.g. winter to spring, fall to winter) since a mix a cold and warm air will create essentially what are low-lying clouds. They tend to restrict visibility despite the use of headlights and fog lamps. When fog cuts the ability to see what is up ahead, a driver's reaction time (to hazards) is greatly reduced. This is why so many serious fog-based accidents start as minor fender benders, but quickly grow into huge pile ups when oncoming drivers cannot stop to avoid the original accident.

Texas drivers have the same duty to use reasonable care while driving in foggy conditions, just as they would in normal conditions. The only difference is that when visibility becomes challenging, they have an obligation to slow down in order to have that extra reaction time to avoid hazards. Drivers who breach this duty may be held liable for the damage they cause in an accident.

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