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Accident raises questions about tunnel safety

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2020 | Car Accidents

A Pennsylvania family says that they are lucky to be alive after emerging unscathed from a multi-vehicle accident on the afternoon of Feb. 22. The family’s SUV was proceeding eastbound on Route 51 near Pittsburgh at approximately 2 p.m. when it was struck from behind. Police say the driver responsible swerved between lanes and clipped at least one other vehicle before striking the family’s SUV. The vehicle is said to have spun several times and slid on its side before coming to a rest on its roof. No charges have been filed in connection with the crash, but police say that their investigation is ongoing.

The accident took place in one of the Pittsburgh area’s many tunnels, and it reveals that disobeying traffic laws in these congested areas can have dire consequences. About 220,000 vehicles pass through the Squirrel Hill, Fort Pitt and Liberty tunnels each day, and many of the drivers exceed posted speed limits and ignore double yellow lines that forbid lane changes. A Pennsylvania State Police trooper who patrols Interstate 376 said lane changes in tunnels have become a chronic issue.

The problem is a serious one because drivers in tunnels have few avenues of escape when another motorist loses control of their vehicle. Road safety advocates have called for cameras to be placed in tunnels to deter dangerous driving and identify offenders, but automated law enforcement techniques are not currently permitted under Pennsylvania law.

The rules that prevent police departments in Pennsylvania from placing cameras near accident hotspots do not apply to commercial or residential property owners. When their clients suffered injuries in a car accident, experienced personal injury attorneys might visit the scene to look for security cameras that could have recorded the events as they unfolded. Attorneys may also seek to gather evidence to establish negligence in a courtroom by interviewing witnesses and having the vehicles involved in the accident inspected.