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Pileup on I-70 Kansas City Feb. 15 2019
A still from the video of the collision shows the carnage of ultimately some 40 trucks and passenger cars in a pileup.

'Somebody's dead, bro': Horrific pileup caught on film shows need for advanced safety

From inside the cab of their Freightliner Cascadia, a truck driver and passenger on Friday, Feb. 15 on Interstate 70 east of Kansas City caught on film an extreme pileup collision in the snow of dozens of cars and tractor-trailers taking place all around them.

The driver posted the graphic video on Facebook (since taken down, but short versions are still up) showing a series of sickening crashes where vehicle after vehicle—many obviously traveling too fast for safety in the snowy conditions—wreck and crunch into the growing pileup.

"There's nothing you can do! It's best for you to stay in the truck," the truck driver filming says to the passenger as oncoming cars continue to smash into each other.

The disturbing crash, damage and injuries shown on film highlight a bevy of trucking and transport safety issues. The first is the need for caution in inclement conditions, which so many drivers seen in the video did not exercise.

It is difficult to fathom in the video as vehicles continually come up on such a pileup at speed and simply plow one after another into the wreckage. So another issue here is distracted driving: did some of these approaching drivers miss this accident and crash into it at such high speed due to distraction? That much seems almost certain.  

"Oh my Lord, bro. Somebody's dead. Somebody's dead!" the driver laments on the video as he and the passenger survey the carnage of vehicles before them.

Even as they do, another tractor-trailer runs up on the collision. "Oh my Lord, it's an 18-wheeler coming! Oh! My Lord!" the driver yells. Fortunately, tractor-trailers approaching the collision spot the fray ahead of time and pull off to the side of the road to coast safely to a halt.

Yet a glaring issue here is that advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)—including forward vehicle, pedestrian and object recognition and automatic emergency braking—could have helped mitigate or even stop the damage that took place on I-70 that day and other rear-end/ pileup collisions on highways across the country.

Trucking operations more and more have been embracing and incorporating ADAS in their trucks, and correspondingly more used trucks have the technology as well. Makers of ADAS technology are now also targeting the aftermarket to add their systems even to used trucks going back several generations of late models. The National Transportation Safety Board sees ADAS as a top issue for transportation safety and calls for this technology to be built into all new highway vehicles, both passenger and commercial.  

Many of these drivers in the I-70 collision failed to act, but ADAS technology could have helped detect and warn and possibly prevent this damage and resulting injuries. And that goes beyond vehicles and trucks: one individual was killed and several were injured in the accident, the Missouri Highway Patrol reported.

Remarkably in the video of the multi-vehicle collision, the Freightliner driver filming the action realizes his truck wasn't damaged.

"We baaaaarely didn't touch nobody—ain't that something!" the driver says on the video. "We didn't touch nobody." 

The truck driver and passenger in the Freightliner made it through unscathed and worked with others at the scene to help people who'd crashed into the pileup. The rest of the video shows disturbing scenes as they worked to help others, including a driver still breathing whose car had been crushed in the accidents.


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