A massive, 130 car pile up along Interstate 40 in North Carolina Sunday night is being blamed on a combination of bad weather – and bad driving. The series of wrecks occurred along a six-mile stretch of highway along both the eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 40 in Alamance County, east of Burlington. The crashes were a result of speeding and tailgating in recent heavy rains, fog and reflecting sun – and subsequent rubbernecking of drivers passing the scene, authorities said.
Reported NBC News on March 14: “Incredibly, none of the injuries was reported to be serious in the series of wrecks, which the state Transportation Department tabulated at nine, involving 94 vehicles, along a six-mile stretch of freeway where westbound Interstate 40 and southbound Interstate 85 are combined in Alamance County, east of Burlington.”
Crash numbers were since updated to 130 vehicles, with over twenty individuals injured and hospitalized. No fatalities were reported.
Drivers reported that the setting sun reflecting off rain-slicked roads caused blinding conditions. Coupled with the fog and a handful of drivers who were reportedly speeding and driving too close to one another, multiple crashes occurred. Investigators said rubberneckers were believed to have caused dozens of more crashes.
Interstate 40 remained closed for nearly five hours as the crashes caused severe congestion. North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Jordan Pack said there were at least nine separate accidents involving two-car and up to seven-car pileups.
According to Raleigh’s News and Observer, North Carolina Highway Patrol Sgt. Danny Jenkins said some of the wrecks were caused as drivers slowed down to take pictures of the scene.
“It was almost like watching dominoes fall,” Jenkins said, adding that he witnessed one rubbernecking driver rear end another – and both drivers took off without even looking at any potential damage to their cars. “Both drivers gave each other the middle finger and they took off,” Jenkins said.
“There were an incredibly high number of calls,” said Chuck Pickard, a shift supervisor for emergency dispatch service Alamance County Central Communications. “We had to use every resource we had to assist with that.”
Adds Greensboro.com: “As the backup continued throughout the evening, cars slammed on brakes and ran into other lanes, onto the shoulder and into the grass in attempts to avoid rear-ending vehicles. Pedestrians stood in the middle of the interstate after wrecks, eventually causing fire officials to call for extra law enforcement officers to tell drivers to get back into their cars.”
The interstate pile up was reportedly caused when one driver rear ended a jeep, tossing the vehicle on top of another stopped car.