Highway Accident Report

Adopted: September 28, 1992
MULIPLE-VEHICLE COLLISIONS AND FIRE
DURING LIMITED VISIBILITY (FOG)
ON INTERSTATE 75 NEAR CALHOUN, TENNESSEE
DECEMBER 11, 1990

NTSB Number: HAR-92/02
NTIS Number: PB92-916202


SYNOPSIS
About 9: 10 a.m. on December 11, 1990, a tractor-semitrailer in the southbound lanes of 1-75 near Calhoun, Tennessee, struck the rear of another tractor-semitrailer that had slowed because of fog. The uninjured truckdrivers exited their vehicles and attempted to check for damage. After the initial collision, an automobile struck the rear of the second truck and was in turn struck in the rear by another tractor-semitrailer. Fire ensued and consumed two trucks and the automobile. Meanwhile, in the northbound lanes of 1-75, an automobile struck the rear of another automobile that had slowed because of fog. Then, a pickup truck and two other automobiles became involved in the chain-reaction rear end collision. No fatalities, injuries, or fires occurred. Subsequently, 99 vehicles in the northbound and southbound lanes were in multiple-vehicle chain-reaction collisions that killed 12 people and injured 42 others.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the multiple-vehicle collisions on 1-75 near Calhoun, Tennessee, was drivers responding to the sudden loss of visibility by operating their vehicles at significantly varying speeds.

· The safety issues discussed in this report include:
· Nonuniform driver behavior during limited-visibility conditions.
· Detection of limited-visibility conditions.
· Limited-visibility countermeasures.
· Hazardous materials container performance.

As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board made recommendations addressing these issues to the United States Department of Transportation; the Federal Highway Administration; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the Tennessee Department of Transportation; the Tennessee Highway Patrol; the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators; the Research and Special Programs Administration; Hercules, Incorporated; the Charleston Volunteer Fire Department; the American Automobile Association; and the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association.

RECOMMENDATIONS

As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board made the following recommendations:

to the U. S. Department of Transportation:

Incorporate fog and other limited-visibility condition countermeasures in demonstration projects of the Intelligent Vehicle Highway System program. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-86)

to the Federal Highway Administration:

Following completion of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program Project 20-5, Topic 23-12, "Reduced Visibility on the Highway," ensure the continued development of effective fog and other limited-visibility countermeasures and make information about these countermeasures available to States on a timely basis. (Class II, Priority Action)(H-92-87)

In cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the American Automobile Association, and the American Driver and Traffic Safe Education Association, review and update driver license, educational, and remedial training materials to ensure that guidance for driving during limited-visibility conditions is uniform and complete and is included in commercial driver license materials. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-88)

to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

In cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, the American Automobile Association, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, review and update driver license, educational, and remedial training materials to ensure that guidance for driving during limited-visibility conditions is uniform and complete. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-89)

In cooperation with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, develop model test questions for licensing examinations on driving during limited-visibility conditions. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-90)

to the Research and Special Programs Administration:

Require that attachments to all U.S. Department of Transportation-authorized hazardous materials packagings be designed to minimize the risk of puncturing other hazardous materials packagings during an accident situation. (Class II, Priority Action) (1-92-1)

Revise requirements for pressure-relief venting on U.S. Department of Transportation specification 57 portable tanks used to transport dicumyl peroxide and other products with similar rapid decomposition characteristics to insure that the pressure-relief systems prevent overpressure rupture of tanks from a rapid product decomposition reaction. (Class II, Priority Action) (1-92-2)

to the Tennessee Department of Transportation:

In cooperation with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, revise the 1992 Tennessee Department of Transportation and Tennessee Highway Patrol Plan of Action and the Surveillance and Response Plan. The plans should provide for the immediate detection of traffic flow disruption and fog, uniform driver response to reduce and maintain traffic speed in advance of and through the hazardous area, enforcement of countermeasures, and a public information and education program to ensure that motorists receive specific behavioral guidance for the fog-prone area. (Class II, Priority Action)(H-92-91)

to the Tennessee Highway Patrol:

In cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, revise the 1992 Tennessee Department of Transportation and Tennessee Highway Patrol Plan of Action and the Surveillance and Response Plan. The plans should provide for the immediate detection of traffic flow disruption and fog, uniform driver response to reduce and maintain traffic speed in advance of and through the hazardous area, enforcement of countermeasures, and a public education program to ensure that motorists receive specific behavioral guidance for the fog-prone area. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-92)

to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators:

Notify your members of the circumstances of the accident on Interstate 75 near Calhoun, Tennessee, as discussed in this report. Also, develop inserts concerning countermeasures that motorists should consider when driving during fog and other limited-visibility conditions and advise your members to enclose such inserts with driver license renewals, motor vehicle registration renewals, and similar mailings. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-93)

In cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Automobile Association, the Federal Highway Administration, and the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, review and update driver license, educational, and remedial training materials to ensure that guidance for driving during limited-visibility conditions is uniform and complete. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-94)

In cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, develop model test questions for licensing examinations on driving during limited-visibility conditions. Provide this information to your members for inclusion in driver manuals. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-95)

to Hercules, Incorporated:

Modify the design of the fork lift truck channels on U.S. Department of Transportation specification 57 portable tanks to minimize the risk of puncturing other portable tanks during an accident situation. (Class II, Priority Action) (1-92-3)

to the Charleston Volunteer Fire Department:

Provide all personnel with the training necessary to identify hazardous materials in accidents, to recognize the immediate dangers posed, and to determine appropriate initial emergency response actions. (Class II, Priority Action) (I-92-4)

to the American Automobile Association:

In cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, review and update driver license, educational (including Triptik maps), and remedial training materials to ensure that guidance for driving during limited-visibility conditions is uniform and complete. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-96)

to the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association:

In cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, the National Traffic Safety Administration, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the American Automobile Association, review and update driver license, educational, and remedial training materials to ensure that guidance for driving during limited-visibility conditions is uniform and complete. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-92-97)