‘Get as far away as possible’: State police offer advice for motorists in large highway pileups

‘Get as far away as possible’: State police offer advice for motorists in large highway pileups

Drivers who find themselves in a pileup similar to a deadly one in Central Pennsylvania this week should get out of their vehicles, if possible, and head to a safe spot, according to state police.

Troopers are warning motorists that standing around the wreckage at that type of scene can be dangerous.

“Best case scenario, there’ll be a nearby hillside or a guardrail, you could go over to the other side there, making sure you’re out of the way of other vehicles that might be involved in something like a pileup,” Trooper Tristan Tappe said during a media event in Greensburg on Wednesday.

Videos posted on social media of the snow-related pileup on Interstate 81 Monday showed a few motorists standing near their vehicles as others barreled in during a snow squall in Schuylkill County, narrowly avoiding being hit. The pileup killed six people and involved 80 vehicles, according to troopers.

“You never think that’ll be you,” Tappe said.

But if it is, she and Cpl. Brent Miller advised drivers to get to a safe spot, putting natural barriers between themselves and vehicles. A situation like that — which police said involved nearly equal amounts of commercial and passenger vehicles — carries a high risk because vehicle fires can lead to explosions or other threats based on what commercial vehicles are carrying.

“The key is to get as far away as possible,” Miller told Lehigh Valley Live.

If you see other vehicles coming or can’t get out of your vehicle, stay inside with your seat belt fastened.

“It’s going to be as you see fit until first responders arrive on scene,” Tappe said.

The stretch of highway reopened Wednesday after crews finished clearing the crash site. Twenty-four people were hospitalized, police said.

Whiteout conditions the same day in Somerset County resulted in a three-vehicle crash in Elk Lick Township on Mt. Davis Road, not far from the highest point in Pennsylvania, according to state police. No one was hurt. Vehicles involved were traveling about 15 mph when an SUV, tractor-trailer and car collided. Police said “road conditions were extremely poor and whiteout conditions with limited visibility were observed.”

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