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Accident Report Detail

Multiple Vehicle Collisions and fire In Fog Interstate 15

Executive Summary

‚ÄčAbout 7:25 a.m. on November 10, 1980, southbound traffic on Interstate Route 15 suddenly encountered dense fog north of the Highland Avenue offramp near San Bernardino, California, that reduced visibility to between zero and 50 feet. Drivers, whose vehicles were traveling 55 mph on the well-maintained, eight-lane, divided highway, said the visibility obscurement was immediate and unexpected. Some drivers slowed their vehicles partially as they entered the fogbank and others did not. A tractor-trailer combination vehicle braked suddenly to avoid a small car that changed lanes in front of it, and a pickup truck struck the trailer from the rear. This initiated a chain of collisions that involved at least 24 vehicles over a period of 5 to 10 minutes within a distance of 450 feet and resulted in 7 fatalities, 17 injuries, and extensive damage to all vehicles.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this multiple-vehicle accident was the failure of the drivers of many of the vehicles involved to reduce speed as necessary to be able to stop in distances compatible with visibility which was severely restricted by dense fog. The initial collision occurred when a tractortrailer was rear-ended after its driver braked abruptly to avoid hitting an unidentified car which changed lanes immediately in front of the truck. Contributing to the severity of the consequences was the extremely varied sizes and weights of the vehicles in the collisions.

Accident Location: San Bernardino , CA    
Accident Date: 11/10/1980
Accident ID: DCA81AH001

Date Adopted: 6/10/1981
NTSB Number: HAR-81-02
NTIS Number: PB81-218869

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