Don’t blame road for 19-vehicle pileup on Interstate 185

If you were among the occupants in that 19-vehicle pileup on Interstate 185 between Buena Vista and Macon roads exits, don’t believe one of the latest causes of the crashes making rounds on social media.

Some folks are suggesting that stretch of highway is to blame for the series of accidents on June 22 in Columbus. With a pouring rain that afternoon, they claim the water just doesn’t drain properly on the highway, causing vehicles to lose control.

Police Maj. J.D. Hawk, head of the Patrol Services Division, has a simple lesson for motorists involved in the crashes. “When it rains, you need to slow down,” he said. “The spray and all the turbulence, they start to hydroplaning. Most of that one big wreck was caused by two vehicles.”

On I-185 just past the Manchester Expressway, Hawk said there was a problem with water draining but some work was done on that section. He noted that 3 inches of rain fell quickly on the city before the crashes on I-185 and that much rain isn’t going to disappear quickly.

“But as far as puddling, I don’t think that was the problem,” he said. “ I think it was just rain and people were going too fast for rainy conditions. People have to realize when it rains you need to slow down,” he said. “ You can’t do 70 (miles per hour) on a dry pavement and still do 70 on a wet pavement.”

It’s always been hard for me to figure that out with drivers. Some motorists wait until it rains to go flying by you. All it takes is a little water on the roadway and you could end up out of control.

None of the drivers in the pileup mentioned anything about water pooling on the highway. In one report after another, the drivers said they started slowing down for an accident ahead of them when they started to change lanes or slow down for the snarled traffic. Some collided with another driver but couldn’t identify which one it was after impact.

In such conditions, all drivers have a responsibility to keep a safe distance, Hawk said. “That is why there is a charge called too fast for conditions,” he said.

The drivers who didn’t slow down in time crashed and they caused other vehicles to crash.

Hawk recalled trips on the interstate when down pours get so heavy, drivers slow down to a crawl. “If you can’t see in front of you because you are getting spray from cars, you’ve got to worry about a car hydroplaning,” he said. “You’ve got to do a speed where you can safely drive in those conditions. “

To learn more about his possible drainage problem on I-185, I called J.D. Abercrombie, the area engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation in Columbus. He referred the question to his main office in Thomaston, Ga. No word yet from the highway folks at the DOT.

There is some good news about a pool of water in the Government Center fountain on 10th Street. Water is flowing again after a Public Works crew sealed the equipment more than a week ago. Pat Biegler, director of Public Works, kept her word and made the proper repairs in time before July arrived.

If you have seen something that needs attention, give me a call.

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