This past week was a particularly wacky one in the wide world of trucking, with a whole range of events to remind us that Mother Nature’s not always our friend. And to be safe out there.
I-80 pileups. Severe weather across the country delayed and even stranded drivers from coast to coast: flood waters and hail covered highways, high winds and tornadoes tipped tractor-trailers and even a freight train. But of the news coverage, this segment from ABC News featuring “stunning” video captured by a trucker on I-80 in Wyoming should be a reminder to everyone: Slow down in white-out conditions.
And just four days later, the debris on I-80 was hardly cleared when fog caused another pileup in the same area.
Among the vehicles involved was a 22,000-gallon tanker containing a flammable liquid that caught fire, producing a heavy black smoke that irritated eyes, according to the Associated Press report. The fire burned for hours, delaying cleanup and investigation of the wreck.
The number of vehicles and when the interstate would reopen wasn't clear five hours later, a trooper on the scene said. "It's going to take a lot of time because it's a big mess."
And just down the road in a stretch of I-80 in Utah, a dust storm and zero visibility caused another chain-reaction pileup. In all, as many as eight semis overturned or were involved in accidents on I-80, several of them dumping their contents into the roadway, a Utah Transportation Department spokesman told NBC News.
Watch for falling rocks. Thanks to modern technology, truckers can stay on top of the weather—but there’s not much anyone can do if a boulder the size of a two-story house decides to dislodge itself from the hillside and smash onto the highway below.
The Ohio DOT tweeted just such an occurrence recently. One vehicle hit the 1,500-ton rock that landed on U.S. 52, though the driver didn’t suffer serious injuries, Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning told The Post.
Buzzkill. What does a first responder do when he discovers that the cargo in the overturned semi is honeybees, 448 hives and home to some 14 million of them? Well, call a beekeeper, of course.
The accident occurred in the early morning hours near a sharp corner where I-405 merges with northbound I-5 in the Lynwood, WA, area. Apparently, according to the report in the Seattle Times, as temperatures warmed the bees became more agitated.
Television reporters swatted at swarms of the insects surrounding their cameras and clumps of bee carcasses littered the roadway.
“Everybody’s been stung,” said Sgt. Ben Lewis of the State Patrol. “This is a first.”
More roadkill. Be advised if you’re trucking in the Golden State: The danger for road-crossing critters—and for the vehicles that hit them, or take evasive action not to—may be rising with the state’s drought.
SFGate.com takes a look a new study from UC Davis that identifies the hot spots for roadkill. These include Interstate 5, where birds along the Pacific Flyway commonly clip windshields, as well as Interstate 80 in the Sierra foothills, where bears and bobcats sometimes end up on bumpers.
The study relies on a database of collisions recorded by volunteers and believed to be the largest of its kind in the nation. It includes more than 29,000 observations between 2009 and 2014, with the deaths of 390 different species logged. A detailed map is here.