Two large-scale accidents happened back to back yesterday around 11 a.m on the autoroute 40 ouest and autoroute 640. In total, almost 150 cars were involved in the crashes.
TL;DR Due to bad road conditions, over 150 vehicles were involved in two crashes, which paralysed the autoroute 40 until the late afternoon. In 2008, a similar crash involving a similar amount of cars, at the same spot, led to questions about the road's safety during snowstorms. Officials did not follow through on recommendations to install trees along the route to reduce snow blow.
The first accident on Highway 640 involved 17 vehicles. Twenty minutes later, on highway 40 near l'Assomption, almost 150 vehicles were involved in an accident, 70 of which were damaged. The highway remained closed for almost five hours, until 4 p.m.
SUIVI : Fermeture #A40 à la hauteur #A31, direction OUEST, Lavaltrie, congestion détour via réseau local. Carambolage. L’autoroute 40 Ouest restera fermé encore pour plusieurs heures #rcmtl pic.twitter.com/nJWLeJUTsi— Mathieu Wagner (@MWagnerRC) January 27, 2019
The crash on the 40 is all too familiar to coroner Renée Duval. In an interview with the Journal de Montréal he describes a similar accident, one that happened almost thirteen years ago, on February 17, 2006.
That accident is considered to be the largest pile-up in Quebec's history. Over 77 cars were damaged, and it resulted in 33 people injured and two deaths.
The coroner says that, at the time, a veil of snow reduced visibility to almost zero, giving drivers the impression they were surrounded by a blinding white light.
Yesterday's accident happened at almost the exact same spot, and involved a similar number of cars.
On this part of the highway, the lack of trees and other vegetation means that there are no barriers between the light, powdery snow in the fields and the highway.
In 2006, Duval recommended that trees should be planted at that spot. Obviously, his recommendations were not followed.
That part of the highway is known to firefighters as a dangerous stretch, and, during bad weather spells, there are often accidents.
Yesterday, powder snow again caused low visibility, and the icy roads meant that drivers had little breaking power.
Several drivers recount the harrowing minutes when vehicles were colliding into each other left and right. Several went into the ditch to avoid being hit by other cars. Miraculously, though several people suffered from light injuries, no one was seriously hurt.
Be careful on the roads today and tomorrow! Road conditions are expected to be dangerous tomorrow because of an impending snowstorm.