The Spokesman-Review reported that recent weather contributed to 47 crashes across the Spokane area in one day, including one of the biggest collisions in recent memory with 38 vehicles.
Just before the large-scale crash on Interstate 90, light snow and mist became heavy snow and frozen fog for about ten minutes due to weather changes. This dropped visibility from 1.5 miles to about a quarter of a mile; the roads were also slick as just over a half-inch of snow fell.
A total of 127 different vehicles were involved in the 47 crashes, and 35 of them happened right on I-90. Luckily, despite all of the accidents, only six people had to go to the hospital and they all had non-life-threatening injuries.
The accident involving 38 cars happened on westbound I-90 close to Geiger Boulevard in the city of Spokane. It was the biggest crash Washington State Patrol Trooper and spokesperson Jeff Sevigney could remember, and this was also true of other officials the spokesman talked to. Sevigney himself has been part of the Washington State Patrol for more than 20 years.
According to Sevigney, drivers were not able to respond quickly enough to the rapid change in conditions. He also noted that they were fortunate there were not any serious injuries despite the total number of cars involved.
For comparison, the Washington State Patrol responded to 39 accidents caused by weather conditions in March of this year, and there were 90 weather-related accidents on one day back in March of 2006, although nearly all of those involved just one car. Sevigney said he had been involved in large serious crash investigations before, the biggest of which involved 12 cars, but never one of this size.
The damage from the 38-car pileup ranged from minor body dents to completely totaled vehicles, according to Sevigney. At one point in the operation, the Washington State Patrol had sent all of its tow trucks, and some tow truck drivers had to keep going back and forth to get cars due to the sheer number on the road.
Local auto shops in the area are prepping for an influx of cars over the next few days as people begin to work with their insurance providers. According to one local auto body shop, a job can be as little as $400 for a damaged side mirror or as much as $35,000 if the car is completely totaled.
Over the holiday commutes this season, the Washington State Patrol is going to have regular patrols out to assist drivers and cut down on accidents related to the weather. They are also taking part in a border-to-border DUI enforcement campaign that is being conducted by agencies from Washington to Montana.
Bad weather can be a cause of driving accidents, but so can the combination of unprepared or distracted drivers and poor driving conditions. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you can speak to an experienced car accident lawyer in Denver, CO about your case and your rights.
Thanks to Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and car accidents.