By David Dishneau
The Associated Press
CUMBERLAND, Md. Traffic managers plan to install automated
fog-warning signs along Interstate 68 in western Maryland,
where the biggest pileup in the state's history occurred last
Memorial Day weekend, a state highway official said.
The signs would carry a printed warning about possible visibility
problems. Flashing lights on the signs would automatically
activate when sensors detect dense fog in known trouble spots,
K.C. Keith, the region's traffic team leader with the State
Highway Administration, said Saturday.
"When there was a real threat, the sign would automatically
come on with the flashing lights to increase the warning,"
The SHA's Division of Traffic and Safety is working with
a consultant on a camera system capable of judging fog density
and communicating by radio with the signs, Keith said. The
agency plans to start building the system by late summer or
early fall, he said.
Keith said he didn't know how much the system would cost.
He announced the plan at a regional meeting of emergency
responders during a panel discussion about lessons learned
from the series of crashes May 23 involving 89 vehicles near
Two people Regina Daudet, 66, of Centreville, Va.,
and Jason Howell, 26, of Millersburg, Ohio were killed
and at least 70 were hurt atop fog-shrouded Big Savage Mountain
on a rainy Friday afternoon.
No one has been charged in the incident.
Garrett County State's Attorney Lisa Thayer Welch said her
office is reviewing a nearly 470-page Detailed Crash Investigation
Report that state police completed in January.
Maryland State Police Cpl. Tony Rose, who headed the crash
investigation team, said the collisions in the westbound lanes
began when drivers slowed to stare at a relatively minor accident
in the median.
"I don't like to use the term rubbernecking, but it
exists. Any time something happens, everybody has to look
at it, and if it means that they're going to slow down and
come to a stop to see it, then that's what they're going to
do. Unfortunately, that's what happened here," he said.
Other panel members said a flood of cellular telephone 911
calls during the I-68 pileup hampered the emergency response.