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Unsafe Lane Change Started Fatal I-40 Chain-Reaction Crash

A chain-reaction crash on I-40 through Garner, North Carolina (NC), claimed the life of one man and sent two other people to hospitals with critical injuries. According to eyewitnesses, the February 3, 2015, accident started when an SUV changed lanes suddenly in front of a Trans-Am, causing the driver of the smaller vehicle to lose control of his car, swerve off the road, overcorrect, cross the median and collide with a Chevrolet Impala. That second car then slammed into a third vehicle.

The SUV was not struck and did not remain at the scene. State and local police have asked anyone with information about the identity of the person behind the wheel of that vehicle, described as a burgundy Chevy Suburban or GMC Envoy, to call (919) 733-3861 or (919) 733-4400.



In reporting on the deadly head-on and sideswipe collision, television station WTVD ABC11 called attention to the cable barriers in the highway median. Designed to catch out-of-control cars and trucks rather than stop them abruptly, the cables sit above the ground. The Trans-Am managed to pass under the barrier.

While the design and use of roadway safety devices always bears attention, especially as evidence mounts that at least one kind of more-traditional guardrail also increases injury and death risks in some kinds of crashes, the issue that probably demands more emphasis here is unsafe lane changes.

Distraction, becoming lost and confused, impairment by drugs or alcohol, and recklessness can all lead people to drift out of their lanes or cutoff fellow drivers. Simply not using the rear-view mirror and failing to check blind spots probably account even more unsafe lane changes that end in near-misses and collisions. Every driver owes it to themselves and others to be patient and only change lanes when they know they can do so without undue risk.


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