Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, November 26, 2012

Texas Highway Pileup on I-10: What Caused It?

Heavy fog was undoubtedly the main cause of the Thanksgiving pileup near Beaumont, TX that killed two people and injured eighty.  The linked article speculates about other causes:  speeding, whether truck drivers or motorists are more to blame, etc.

But they skipped something.  There’s a certain type of driving I’ve seen in that part of Texas — anywhere within about a 100-mile radius of Houston — that I’ve never seen anywhere else:  Everybody follows too closely.

I’m not talking about tailgating the slow F#$%!#%$!!$ in front of you; everybody does that.  But in this part of Texas, there seems to be about six inches between every two cars on the road.  I-10 looks like a train barreling down the freeway at 90 m.p.h.

When I’ve been on that part of I-10, if there’s a slower car in front of me and I see another vehicle coming up behind me, I get over to the right lane ASAP.  And it’s not limited to I-10.  It was the same thing on the north-south route between Galveston and West Columbia.

I’ve never seen this mass tailgating at 90 m.p.h. — with six inches between every two vehicles — anywhere else, even southern California.

Has anyone else noticed this?  I haven’t been in Texas since 2000, but unless there’s been a mass personality shift in that area, I can only assume all of the vehicles on that fateful Thanksgiving were snuggled up close together as they went barreling through the fog.

I’m not pointing fingers or trying to use this tragedy to make a point.  It just seemed odd that the linked article didn’t mention this.


Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

More years ago than I care to go into, as an 18-year-old who had driven for two years, I wound up in rush-hour traffic on the Long Island Expressway. At 65 mph, cars were typically less than six feet apart. Those were the days of drum brakes, BTW. What made things especially hairy was that again and again, cars made sudden, snap lane changes, only hitting the turn indicator (if they hit it at all) as they were starting the lane change, not even a second before.

Another characteristic I noticed during that hair-raising drive was that drivers entering the expressway used one of two methods, nothing in between. Some charged into the relatively short entry lane very fast, veering left, over the solid line and into the first through lane, as quickly as they possibly could. Others hesitated, ran out the entry lane and then bumbled their way up to traffic speed at a laggardly pace. That caused cars behind them to make snap lane changes, trying to get around the slowpokes. That was bad when one car made a snap lane change. Sometimes, two, three or more would do it, flanking over five of the six lanes. I saw that happen several times within 40 minutes and still marvel that somehow not one of those crazy situations ended with a massive chain-reaction pileup.

More recently, I've been in very tightly spaced traffic at 60-70 on I-405 between Factoria and Tukwila many times. I have to say, the drivers on that run have been more skilled, more aware of the drivers around them and generally more courteous than they were on the L.I. Expressway so long ago.

November 27, 2012 at 12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading between the lines, I get this "god given right to drive fast, big government can't tell me what to do with my truck" vibe that just seems to override any concern for safe driving.


November 27, 2012 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Long Island Expressway, I'll have to remember that. My earliest driving years were in Connecticut; occasionally the Boston area and New York suburbs near the Connecticut state line. Boston had the most inept drivers I've ever seen.

Erik: That's probably part of it, but I didn't see this kind of driving in other parts of the South or even other parts of Texas.

November 27, 2012 at 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

I've lived in Texas for some time now, and can vouch for this.

Tailgating is rampant, and so are idiots driving 5-10mph under the speed limit in the fast lane, side by side with similar idiots in the slow lane.

I've lived in eight states (and 12 or so cities) over the years and have to say that Texas drivers are the absolute worst.

November 28, 2012 at 3:22 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: Since you live there, I'll take your word for it. The Houston area, give or take 100 miles, was the only area where I saw that mass tailgating, where every 2 cars are about 6 inches apart. But I haven't been back to Texas for over 12 years.

November 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are all rushing to get the red beans and rice at that motel restaurant on the north side of 10 before Lake Charles.

Last time I had them, was 30 years ago, I'd imagine word has gotten out by now! Plus, they did sell out early many days.

That must explain it because I drive much of the US, and drivers suck equally everywhere.

November 28, 2012 at 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

People just are always rushing from here to there, like life will end if they slow down and pay attention.

November 28, 2012 at 7:16 PM  

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