Who Gets to Decide When a Road Is Unsafe to Drive?
Vaziri October 22, 2021

In January 2012, Florida state authorities decided to briefly close Interstate 75 at around 12:15 a.m. due to a forest fire and the foggy conditions that night; visibility was at very unsafe levels for drivers. These conditions led to an accident between a tow truck and two sports cars twenty minutes earlier, which is why the authorities decided to close the highway.

The lockdown lasted until 3:26 a.m., when officials judged that the conditions had improved and visibility improved slightly. Unfortunately for the drivers that night, that was not the case. The fog and smoke were utterly dense, and they were in a low area south of Gainsville, where they had heavily settled.

The first crash in the fatal chain of accidents occurred at approximately 4:05 a.m. Two trailers were parked occupying the right and center lanes, then three more cars collided with them. In addition, several vehicles and a motor home were involved. The victims reported desperately listening to the cars hitting one after the other and that the fog was so dense that they could not see anything in front of them. Sadly, eleven people died.
What happens when road conditions are so dangerous? Who decides to close them?

In the event of any emergency, bad road conditions, or bad weather conditions on the highways, the decision to close a road falls typically on local authorities, who unfortunately do not have many guidelines or written safety regulations that can guide them in terms of what actions to follow. In addition to this, authorities depend on the personnel they have in the area and what they can or cannot see to make this decision.

Therefore, it is necessary to constantly review safety policies and procedures based on recent changes to some highways, the seasons of the year, and the risks that the corresponding climatic conditions may represent for drivers.

Even when there are no specific guidelines, as citizens, we must take care of our safety and the safety of others when going out on the road. If your car is not in good condition, the highway is blocked or with construction work, and the weather conditions are extreme, it is better to stay home with your family.