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I-80 ACCIDENTS PennDot officials blame drivers for rash of wrecks on interstate



Published: Sat, February 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Two crashes have involved more than 100 vehicles.

MERCER, Pa. -- Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials say it's the drivers, and not the road or how it is managed, who are responsible for a rash of multicar pileups on Interstate 80 this winter.

"There is nothing wrong with the road," said David Bollenbacher, a maintenance manger for the District One office of PennDot. "People need to adjust their driving to the weather conditions. We can have winter advisory signs out, and people will drive past at 75 mph."

Slick roads and high speed led to a series of chain-reaction wrecks in both directions of I-80 in Mercer County on Thursday. The crashes claimed the life of one woman and caused 20-mile backups during the afternoon rush hour. Two months earlier, there was an 80-car pileup in snowy conditions.

"We had the roads crews out Thursday. They were doing their jobs," Bollenbacher said. "The roads were icy. People need to pay attention. If you see a deer going across the highway, you don't speed up."

Thursday's crashes began with a single vehicle accident involving a passenger van that skidded off the road near Mercer and hit a rock embankment. A passenger in the van was killed.

Soon after began a series of mishaps on both sides of the highway as tractor-trailers lost control and jackknifed. At least four tractor-trailers had crashes, two with each other. Cars following behind them were involved in more than a dozen crashes.




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