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30 vehicles ensnared in mass crash

The Local · 21 Jan 2012, 11:55

Published: 21 Jan 2012 11:55 GMT+01:00

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Some drivers said they were blinded by the sun, and were unable to see the vehicles in front of them until it was too late.

Police spokesman Mathias Kutzner described the situation as "extremely chaotic." The mass crash happened Friday afternoon, about 1,000 metres from the Cloppenburg exit.

It took police several hours to clear the roadway. They said the low-lying sun left several drivers unable to see the cars in front of them – and the wet roadway made braking difficult.

"The road was wet, the sun was extremely low – I could hardly see anything," driver Henrik P. told the Bild daily.

"When I saw the accident, I wanted to swerve into the median, but I was unable to do so, and I ran into the car in front of me. It all happened so fast."

Several vehicles were involved in two initial crashes, but the pile-up grew larger as other drivers tried – and failed – to stop. Two people were seriously injured when a lorry collided with a trailer stopped ahead, smashing several cars together.

Police said those two passengers were airlifted to hospital.

Two German soldiers were on their way to spend a weekend in Osnabrück when they were caught in the crash. Johann F. told Bild that he could barely see due to the sun.

Story continues below…

"That's why I didn't see that the car in front of me was already stopped, and I crashed into it," he said. "It was awful."

DPA/The Local/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:46 January 21, 2012 by KamiZ
This has been happening a lot lately on the Autobahn. I wonder if there's a common reason for these crashes. I'm sure the Transport Ministry and ADAC will look into it.
20:49 January 21, 2012 by Simon_Kellett
> This has been happening a lot lately on the Autobahn. I wonder if there's a common reason for these crashes.

Driving too fast for the conditions? (The quote in the article is from a driver who did not slow enough so that he/she could stop within the visable space.)
07:53 January 22, 2012 by DocEllis
Let me think. How does that phrase go. Never drive faster than you can see. Except in Germany where you always drive faster than you can see.

This is sad and avoidable. Let us hope some have learned.

10:20 January 22, 2012 by zeddriver

I doubt very much if lessons were learned.

In defense of the drivers though. The vast majority of near accidents I have witnessed on the Autobahn (bad weather or not). Have involved lorry drivers swerving into the middle lane at the very same moment they put on their signal. They seem to be in such a hurry to start an elephant race with another lorry driver that they forget to look in the mirror to see if traffic is clear.
11:02 January 22, 2012 by DocEllis
Hello Zeddriver,

I drive between 60 and 70 thousand KM per year in Germany and my view is some what different than yours. The slower traffic always control the pace. The problem, in my opinion, and based on my observations, is the lack of space between vehicles. People following far too close to each other and without discretion. Poor judgement. I allow 2 secounds. ALWAYS. When I approach two trucks nose to tail I always expect the rear to pull out suddenly, but I'm watching closely and I am engaged in what is going on around me.

So far so good. 1.3 million Km in 17 years.

11:04 January 23, 2012 by zeddriver

Point taken.

I say you must be a lucky driver. I have only been in Germany for 18 months and have been caught out by lorry drivers pulling out into the middle lane several times. And I have witnessed other drivers having to slam on their brakes for the same. I myself owned a trucking company in the US for ten years. I leased my company to FedEx. It was standard procedure that before a temping a pass. One had to be sure that traffic was not approaching. As for the slower vehicle setting the pace. I think not. Just because a lorry or auto is going slow does not impart the privilege of pulling into the middle lane without regards to traffic that already occupies that lane.

I do agree that Germans do have a bad habit of putting their front bumpers on the

rear of the car in front of them. ESP the Audi pilots.
11:54 January 23, 2012 by DocEllis
Hello Zeddriver,

To be honest, I miss the driving in the states. It is completely different drive.

To clarify, the slower controls the pace because the vehicle in front is in charge, be it a truck or a car. In that, the only two choices are to slow down for the vehicle or hit them from behind. One must always yield to the vehicle in front, therefore, the slower vehicles control the pace. Pulling out with little notice to the approaching traffic from behind is something I have seen happen many times, and I agree the truck drivers should give more notice, but if one watches closely it is almost predicable. If one is looking at what the other traffic is likely to do. A driving habit I learned from when I road motorcycles.

...and yes, I have been lucky, very lucky, but I am careful and look watch for dangerous situations.

Good luck.

18:20 January 23, 2012 by Staticjumper

I'm shocked to hear anyone say they miss the driving in the states! May I ask what it is that you miss? I spent 15 years in Germany and now live near Chicago. The drivers here are far more dangerous than anything I ever saw in Germany. Lane changing without signaling, drifting onto shoulders, driving in the rain or even at night without lights on, and my favorite of all .. failure to keep right. It's common to see cars in the far left lane of a four lane expressway with no cars in the right three lanes, refusing to move to the right and forcing passing on the right. I forget where I heard it, but someone said, "In the US you go to driving school to learn how to get your license. In Germany you go to driving school to learn how to drive."
00:33 January 24, 2012 by green idea factory
All highways here have enforced dynamic speed limits, at least in theory. Every problematic area based on combination of e.g. direction of travel, position of sun and surface condition should be in a database... in other words the resulting "spontaneous" lower speed limits should be on electronic signs and otherwise communicated to drivers. I prefer the train as long distance transport for safety and other reasons, but there still should be no excuses for making driving as safe as possible. Related, really no one should be able to drive faster than then 120km/h, also for environmental reasons as at around this speed a car is in its highest gear and around 3000 rpm...
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