Worst Freeway Pileups of All Time (And What You Can Do to Avoid One)

Accidents happen. Sometimes, crazy car accidents involving dozens of cars. Here’s a look at some of the worst freeway accidents of all time, plus a look at the main factors that cause mega-pileups. We hope you can learn a bit from these epic highway car accident disasters, to prevent yourself from getting involved in one.

Make sure that you protect yourself by being aware of your surroundings, driving defensively, and maintaining adequate car insurance in the event of a major automobile accident.

Read through our listing of the worst highway accidents ever so that you can be a more prepared and cautious driver – and above all – slow down!

1. The Fresno Fiasco

  • Location: Highway 99 Fresno, CA, USA
  • Date: November 3, 2007
  • Weather: Fog
  • Number of Cars: 126
  • Number of Injuries: 36
  • Main Factor Involved: Visibility

This Fresno highway pileup has been called one of the largest car accidents in United States history. Firefighters who arrived on the scene to assist at the original accident scene could still hear cars crashing into one another. A thick fog known as “Tule fog” in Central California was the main factor — it causes visibility to drop to two feet in some areas, leading motorists to continue piling into each other long after the original accident.

2. Misfortune in Massachusetts

  • Location: Interstate 93 Near Londonberry, MA
  • Date: January 12, 2009
  • Weather: Snow
  • Number of Cars: 46
  • Number of Trucks: 13
  • Number of Injuries: 15
  • Main Factor Involved: Winter Conditions, Unplowed Pavement

Highway Car Accident

It took emergency crews over four hours to clear up this mess and reopen the highway. One witness noted that while road conditions had been good, the further they traveled down the interstate the less the road was plowed in the snowy conditions, leading to the epic accident. This took place during early morning drive time, which was also a factor. The morning commute is generally a time when people are rushing to work, despite the fact that there might be inclement weather affecting driving conditions.

3. Wreckage in Williamsburg

  • Location: Interstate 64 Williamsburg, VA
  • Date: February 10, 2010
  • Weather: Heavy Snowfall
  • Number of Vehicles: 50
  • Number of Injuries: 7
  • Main Factor Involved: Visibility, Traction, Narrow Roadway

Winter Car Accident

This crash was clearly due to the inability of drivers to see anything, since there was a good amount of snowfall occurring at the time, known as white-out conditions. The snow obviously did not help drivers stop, either. Another factor is the road was blocked on each sides by guardrails, causing drivers to swerve to still crash awkwardly, and leading to subsequent accidents behind them.

4. The Great Czech Wreck

  • Location: Highway D1 Near Vysocina, Czech Republic
  • Date: March 8, 2008
  • Weather: Heavy Snowfall
  • Number of Vehicles: 189
  • Number of Injuries: 30
  • Main Factor Involved: Snow

Highway Car Pileup

This is known as the biggest traffic accident in Czech history. It took eleven hours to clear the roadway, partly because there were concrete columns that further congested the site, partly because there were almost 200 vehicles involved. Snow was the biggest issue driving this accident, as conditions made it very difficult to use the brakes to come to a reasonable stop.

5. The Autobummer

  • Location: Autobahn Lower Saxony, Germany
  • Date: July 19, 2009
  • Weather: Heavy Snowfall
  • Number of Vehicles: 239
  • Number of Injuries: 66
  • Main Factor Involved: Heavy Rain, Speeding

Highway Auto Accident

At the time of this pileup, heavy rain caused both traction and visibility problems for all involved. It started when a few cars lost control, then slowly built into a massive amount of vehicles. Police said that speed was a factor as well, since the Autobahn has no defined speed limit. Speed certainly played a major role, since the series of accidents that caused this pile-up spanned over a two-hour period.

How You Can Avoid a Pileup

The purpose in reading about car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents is to know some of things that you can do to prevent them from happening in the first place! Here are some tips for preventing a car accident:

  1. Check the weather conditions – Is there going to be unusual weather during your trip? If so, plan for extra traveling time and drive slowly.
  2. Take your time – Often pileups occur because people are driving faster than conditions allow for. Don’t make the mistake of taking this kind of risks.
  3. Pay attention – A lack of attention gets drivers into a lot of trouble. As tempting as it is, hold off on that phone call or text until you get to where you are going.

A combination of the above factors like adverse weather conditions, rushing, being distracted, etc. can be extremely dangerous. The majority of pile-ups have more than one factor involved. Begin by reducing bad driving habits (like texting while driving, or speeding during inclement weather) to improve your overall safety.

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