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Fatal multi-car pileup complicated by variety of causes

Virginia drivers may be interested to learn more about the recent deadly pileup on I-75 that has shaken up drivers in the southeast, who must often face haze, fog and other uncertain weather conditions during their commutes.

When multiple causes of a fatal crash are involved, as well as multiple vehicles, deciphering responsibility can be as confusing as the collisions themselves. Last month, 11 people lost their lives on a stretch of Florida interstate. Cars and trucks collided in what would become a deadly pileup on January 30, ultimately sending 18 other drivers and passengers to area hospitals.

Reduced visibility, mainly due to a combination of fog and smoke, impaired drivers as they cruised down a road known for high speeds. At least 12 cars and six semi trucks ran into one another in the early morning hours, causing crashes in both the northbound and southbound lanes.

The deadly accidents occurred shortly after local authorities had decided to reopen both lanes. Earlier that morning, that section of I-75 had been closed due to the thick mixture of fog and smoke from a nearby brush fire.

In such a complicated fatal motor vehicle accident, figuring out who is responsible is a tricky endeavor. Certainly no one can control -- or even predict with certainty -- the weather, but the decision to reopen the highway will likely come under intense scrutiny.

In addition, the origins of the brush fire may also influence future litigation, as authorities are investigating whether an arsonist was responsible for the fire.

In Virginia, neither interstates nor unpredictable weather are in short supply, and unfortunately, neither are fatal car accidents. Authorities here and around the country will undoubtedly use the I-75 pileup as a lesson in prevention and responsibility.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, "11th victim found days after deadly crash on I-75," February 1, 2012

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