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Turnpike pileup shows danger of winter Ohio truck accidents

It has been a winter of treacherous road conditions in Ohio and the rest of the Midwest and East. Ohioans who have driven on the Pennsylvania Turnpike know that it is a major route for commercial trucks. On Valentine's Day, the icy, snowy conditions led to two multi-vehicle collisions that included tractor-trailers and numerous passenger vehicles.

Reportedly, 30 motorists were hospitalized with injuries suffered in the pileups on the eastbound lanes during the morning commute that created miles-long traffic jams on the busy roadway. Traffic was brought to a standstill for hours. Fortunately, no life-threatening injuries were reported.

While Mother Nature played a key role in the conditions that caused the massive pileup with a storm during the night that brought 12 inches of snow, people caught in it placed blame on authorities' failure to properly treat the busy thoroughfare, as well as drivers who were traveling at speeds unsafe for the conditions. The speed limit on the turnpike had been reduced during the night, but it was back to normal at 6:00 a.m.

The state police are investigating to determine just what happened. However, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike said the decision to return to regular posted speed limits was based on information from road crews working on the turnpike. Part of that investigation will likely include just when the icy roads were treated and whether conditions changed that warranted further treatment or continued reduced speed limits.

Motorists reported that the road was icy and that they saw chunks of ice that were not salted. One said, "I was driving on solid ice." He noted that despite the slippery conditions, he saw drivers going 65 to 70 mph.

When people are involved in Ohio truck accidents and other collisions in bad road conditions, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault. Some collisions are out of any driver's control. Others, however, are caused by people driving too fast for weather and road conditions. This can be particularly dangerous and deadly if the vehicle is a large tractor-trailer. People involved in an accident in these situations may be able to hold a driver liable if he or she is operating the truck in an unsafe manner. If authorities responsible for the safety of the roadway did not take adequate safety measures to prevent collisions, these authorities may also be held liable.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Trucks, dozens of cars crash on Pennsylvania Turnpike" Ron Todt and Michael Rubinkam, Feb. 14, 2014

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