A recent multiple-car accident on Florida’s Interstate 75 illustrates the tremendous danger posed by high speeds, congested roadways and one split second of inattention, which can combine to create a devastating outcome. This crash began when a semitruck rammed an SUV, crushing the vehicle like an accordion against a concrete barrier on the side of the road. Within seconds, another SUV collided with the semitruck, which blocked part of the roadway and prevented the second SUV from braking in time to avoid the accident.
In total, the accident involved 11 vehicles and resulted in injuries to seven drivers and passengers, several of who spent time in intensive care in what undoubtedly is the start to a very long road to recovery. Remarkably, less than two weeks later another chain reaction accident on this very same roadway left one person dead and two injured.
Accidents such as the aforementioned 11-car pileup are often referred to as chain reaction accidents, due to the manner in which they transpire. While the reason for this accident was identified as an improper lane change by one of the drivers, usually the chaos in the aftermath of most multiple-vehicle collisions makes it very difficult to determine the precise causes of it. Furthermore, negligence on the part of multiple drivers is often a factor, which makes it challenging to apportion liability.
While determining the source, or sources, of accident-causing negligence is never easy, investigators and legal counsel can utilize a number of concrete indicators, including:
- Law enforcement generated documentation, such as police reports, which may indicate which driver(s) violated traffic laws
- Patterns of damage to vehicles, demonstrating the order of collisions
- Testimony from eyewitnesses, who may have seen a detail that drivers were incapable of detecting
- Evidence from the accident scene, such as debris
Back off and slow down
A driver’s following distance is perhaps the most critical factor in most chain reaction accidents, since the failure to leave adequate space and reaction time is a major cause of these collisions. This problem is compounded in chain reaction accidents when multiple drivers do not observe proper following distances, or in worst-case scenarios when multiple cars tailgate each other while traveling at high speeds.
The best advice is to always to keep a moderate speed, drive defensively and slow down on congested roadways — and to seek the advice of an experienced car accident attorney.