Rain-slick roads cause pileups on I-40

Posted July 29, 2009
Updated July 30, 2009

— A series of wrecks on Interstate 40 snarled traffic for hours during evening rush hour Wednesday.

Multi-car pileups snarl I-40 traffic Multi-car pileups snarl I-40 traffic

The first wreck, just west of Miami Boulevard, happened at about 5 p.m. and involved 15 cars.

“It was a frightening situation, especially when you look in your mirror and an officer asks me, ‘What did you see?’" driver Jon Hughes said. "I looked in my mirror, and I saw a windshield coming at me and I said, 'Oh God.'"

All westbound lanes were closed for about 30 minutes as troopers worked to clear the wreckage, and get help to those who were injured.

“The biggest obstacles are traffic and our safety,” said A.R. El-Amin, with the state Highway Patrol.

A second wreck took place near Davis Drive, involving about 18 vehicles, including two tractor-trailers, N.C. Highway Patrol spokeswoman Julia Jarema said.

In each case, the pile-ups started when one car rear-ended another on rain-slicked roads, she said.

“It was raining pretty hard. I was braking, and it was just a dead stop. I managed to stop, but other people didn't,” driver Alice Taylor said.

Just one lane of I-40 was opened to traffic for nearly two hours, with troopers re-opening all lanes at about 8:30 p.m.

No deaths were reported in the wrecks, but several people were taken to area hospitals with injuries.

“Fortunately, praise God everybody was safe in the accident. When you pile up 15 cars, it is a pretty awesome blessing to have everybody safe,” driver Mikkel Thompson said.

No charges have been filed, Jarema said Thursday morning.


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  • lkanzig Jul 30, 2009

    rain did not cause it!
    like i said before.. people in this state think its more important to read a newspaper or text while driving!

  • lorivalentine1 Jul 30, 2009

    mpheels - I do not disagree with what you said regarding the space between vehicles BUT idiots here do not allow any safe distance between vehicles.. every one seems to take the car length between as a sign to cut in, and more often than not without any signal thus forcing the other driver to slam on the brakes.. I have never been any where with more rude discurteous drivers.
    That is one the very few reasons I do not like living here.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jul 30, 2009

    That said, give me a confident, attentive driver any day over a terrified slow poke that can't merge with traffic and is all over the brakes. It's hard to check my blind spot and merge when the guy in front of me is braking for no reason.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jul 30, 2009

    nobama2012, I certainly understand your point and yes, slow drivers set off aggressive drivers, but the aggressive driving is the actual danger.

    For example, the economy may push people to rob banks, but we don't give the bank robbers a pass claiming its not their fault.

  • jellybiscuit Jul 30, 2009

    We can always count on a few drops of rain to point out the incompetent drivers out there. Getting in a wreck on a highway has got to be the highest level of incompetence - yet every single time it rains there's cars wrecked in the medians. This is worthy of an automatic loss of license.

    Hopefully noone got seriously injured as a result of your ineptness.

  • lovethemoment Jul 30, 2009

    sometimes the people doing 45 are just as dangerous as the people doing 80. They slow traffic and cause people to weave in and out trying to get around all the slow people. Lets find a nice medium or stay off the roads.

  • SheriffTruman Jul 30, 2009

    Where this happened is right after the left marge of Durham Freeway onto I-40 if I am reading this right. That is a nasty stretch of road, even when it is not raining - I used to drive it every day). The traffic entering onto I40 on the left tends to panic and slam on brakes even though they have a lane that they can stay in with no issues. Some want to get over to Miami or Davis, which means crossing 4 lanes at high speed in a short distance, but still, there is no reason to stop at the bottom of the ramp from 147 as it is pretty hard to merge into traffic going 75 when you are going 25.

    When it rains there are too many people who suddenly overreact to everything and too many people who want to drive like it is not even raining. No reason to go 45 and no reason to go 80 either. If everyone would just think about where they are going and drive cautiously but predictably and close to a normal pace, it would work out so much better.

  • sadler19fan Jul 30, 2009

    reader, NASCAR is drafting...aint a soul on I-40 that should be drafting. Rain = slow down. Not stop or crawl, but slow down. Even large vehicles like SUV's hydroplane. It amazes me to see the drivers in large vehicles think they can speed because of their size. I drive a Tahoe & I dont fly in the rain. As I've stated before, I'm the driver in the right lane driving the speed limit with white knuckles!

  • Methuselah Jul 30, 2009

    "Rain-slick roads cause pileups on I-40"

    A more accurate title: "Idiots driving too fast and following too closely cause pileups on rain-slick I-40".

  • mpheels Jul 30, 2009

    Reader, the interstate isn't NASCAR - race cars are built to sustain major damage without major injury to the driver, plus race car drivers wear fire retardant clothing and helmets, and are highly trained to handle high speeds and close following distances.

    You're absolutely right, drivers should take as much time/distance as possible to stop, but some times the time/distance to stop requires slamming on brakes, like if a car cuts you off or a person/animal runs out in front of you. If the car behind you is following basic driver safety standards they should be able to react and stop without rear ending you regardless of speed.