pileup n : multiple collisions of vehicles
A multi-vehicle collision (colloquially known as a pile-up) is a road traffic accident involving many vehicles. Generally occurring on freeways, they are one of the deadliest form of traffic accidents.
Pile-ups generally occur in low-visibility conditions, like rain or fog. In such conditions drivers on highways often drive closer together than they should. If one car develops a problem, those behind it cannot stop in time, hitting it. As cars are forced into other lanes and oncoming traffic more vehicles become involved. The most disastrous pile-ups have involved more than a hundred vehicles. (In such conditions, 'rear fog lamps' should be used. See 'Defensive driving').
They are particularly deadly as the solid mass of crumpled vehicles makes escape difficult. A fire in one part of the accident can quickly spread to spilled fuel and cover the entire crash area. Vehicles in a pile up are often hit multiple times, increasing risk of injury to the passenger. Moreover cars are often spun during an accident and are subsequently hit from the side, increasing risk of injury or death. Some vehicle occupants choose to get out of their vehicles during a pile up, making them vulnerable to oncoming vehicles. Pile-ups can also overburden local firefighting, ambulance, and police services making quick rescues more difficult.
The large scale of these accidents can close important routes for several days. The destruction and intense heat of fires can also damage roadways, particularly by melting and burning the asphalt. Bridge structures can also be weakened by the heat. A pileup inside a tunnel is by far the worst, as there is little means for escape in older ones, and the unvented heat may even cause the concrete lining to come apart.
Determining the cause of such accidents is also difficult for investigators and it is often impossible to tell if negligence caused the crash.
Note: the term pile-up is used in particle physics to refer to a situation where a particle detector is affected by several events at the same time.
- 11 December 1990: Interstate 75 in Calhoun, Tennessee, United States, between Chattanooga and Knoxville near the Hiwassee River, due to very heavy fog; fiery crash involved 99 vehicles; 12 deaths and 42 injuries. A fog warning system has since been installed, and the highway patrol enforces speed limits aggressively.
- 31 December 1988: 100 cars crashed on an ice-slicked section of Interstate-75 in central Michigan, killing one and injuring 39.
- 3 September, 1999: Highway 401 in Essex County, Ontario, Canada, just east of Windsor. Very dense fog and tailgating causes an 87-vehicle pile-up, killing 8, and injuring 33 more.
- 9 January 2008: Four people were killed and as many as 38 injured early Wednesday in a major pileup on Interstate 4 in north central Florida involving 70 vehicles, as fog mixed with smoke from a controlled fire that reached out-of-control proportions combined to make it almost impossible for motorists to see.
- March 11, 2008: Around 6.39am UAE time a series of vehicle crashes occurred, involving cars, SUVs, buses and trucks, because of heavy fog on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway near Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, leading to the worst ever crash and multi-vehicle pileup in the country’s history. According to Dubai based Gulf News and Reuters the incident killed 3 people and injured 277, involving 60 vehicles from which 25 caught fire according to Abu Dhabi Police .
In popular cultureBurnout 2: Point Of Impact,Burnout 3:Takedown and Burnout Revenge crash modes requires player to create a massive pile-up as possible to earn medals.
pileup in German: Massenkarambolage
pileup in French: Carambolage
pileup in Dutch: Kettingbotsing