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Posted on 12-18-2016

Winter Storm Causes Deadly 67-Vehicle Car Accident In Baltimore

As all of my avid blog followers already are aware, I am a Baltimore Chiropractor that spends the majoirty of my clinic time treating acutely injured Baltimore car accident patients. Typically these patients present with axial spine pain (headaches, neck pain, and back pain) from acute whiplash injuries as a result of Baltimore car accidents. This week was fairly normal for us in the clinic, as we saw about another dozen new Baltimore auto accident injury patients. The weatherman was calling for snow and freezing rain Friday night into Saturday, and I predicted that the adverse road conditions would likely cause there to be more crashes. Unfortunately for the citizens of Baltimore (where I also reside) I was correct, as we saw the first major storm of the season cause a 67 vehicle pile up on I-95 Northbound near Washington Boulevard in Southwest Baltimore. Several people even lost their lives due to the horrific conditions.

By now we have all seen the cell phone video capturing the moment the gas tankard hit the retaining wall on I-95 and fell below the elevated highway to the train tracks below, exploding into a fireball almost instantaneously. While it looked like the action out of a Hollywood blockbuster, it was unfortunately real. For those that are so inclined you can see the video of the explosion here. I apologize for any NSFW (not safe for work) language that you may hear.

What happened after that was a domino effect as other vehicles, traveling too quickly under icy road conditions continued to crash around that turn. By the time the dust settled nearly 67 vehicles were involved in a chain-reaction crash that unfortunately took at least two lives. Even for hours after the event it became clear just how difficult it would be for emergency vehicles and police to get to the scene to help the injured and the stranded.

As a result of these horrible Baltimore auto accident collisions I thought it would be a good idea to explain what causes roads to be icy and how best to drive on those conditions in order to maximize safety.

Firstly, icing on roads is a condition that occurs when we have ambient temperatures at or near freezing. If you have a phone or car that alerts you to the outside temperature, always be cautious when the temperature is approaching freezing, since it is possible for ice to appear on bridges and elevated roadways without ice being visible on your car. In order for ice to form and stay on roads, the roads need to be at or below freezing temperature. So while there may not be frozen ice on your driveway or on your city commute on surface streets, it is still possible for bridges and elevated roadways (such as I-95) to get icy before the main roads do. This is because cold air impacts both surfaces (above and below) elevated bridges and roadways and as a result they freeze much faster than do roadways on the ground. I strongly suspect that drivers on I-95 had a false sense of security while driving on the road since they did not realize there would be ice on the highway. I have driven that stretch of I-95 hundreds of times and I am not sure if there are any signs indicating that it is an elevated highway. I will have to look the next time I'm over there.

Here are some tips on how to drive on icy roads if it can not be avoided:

1. Avoid it all costs - I know this is not much of a tip, but when the meteorologists tell you to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary, you should heed the warning. We want to be able to give city crews time to ice the roads and we also want to give emergency crews plenty of space to work to help those who have become injured or stranded.

2. Slow down! - Most people I know travel faster than the speed limit. But remember, the speed limit is for optimal driving conditions. If it is raining, sleeting, or icy, it is imperative that we slow down to below the speed limit to help prevent us from carrying too much speed from which we can not slow down or stop.

3. Get your vehicle checked out - Prior to impending snow storms, make sure your vehicle is in the best shape possible. Make sure your traction control is functioning properly, your antilock braking mechanism is in working order, and that you have snow tires available if you really must travel.

4. Wear your seat belt - Even if you are obeying these rules of the roads, that does not mean that all drivers are. As a result you should be wearing your safety belt at all times to help restrain you in case of an impending Baltimore auto accident. Besides, its the law and you should be wearing it under all driving circumstances.

5. Don't stop to help those that are stranded - This one seems counterintuitive. We all want to be good neighbors and help those in need. The problem with stopping to help someone stranded due to icy or snowy conditions is that you may inadvertently cause a rubbernecking issue which can then lead to more vehicles crashing. It is best to simply call 911 and have emergency crews block the road and help the stranded motorist themselves, as they are trained in how to do so safely.

6. Avoid hills when possible - Despite your best efforts, when gravity takes over no amount of braking can stop "what goes up" from "coming down." This is why it is best to avoid the roads altogether if you know or suspect that it may be very icy or snowy.

This 67 car crash is a terrible event and unfortunately many people were injured and some were even killed. My condolences go out to the friends and families of those who were killed. We all must do our part to obey the rules of the road in order to help lessen or eliminate unnecessary risk while driving.

With that being said, if you or someone you know, has been injured as a result of the 67-car pile up in Baltimore on Saturday, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be happy to help you on the road to recovery.

Dr. Gulitz

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