Photo shows the site of a multiple-vehicle collision on the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki in Miyagi Prefecture, on Tuesday night. Photo: KYODO
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Heavy snow causes 130-vehicle pile-up on Tohoku Expressway; one dead, 17 injured

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Tragic.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

This is what you call a real emergency. Unlike that joke of a ‘ national state of emergency’ that applies to everyone, in other news. Driving in snow and ice is truly horrendous.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

Some jurisdictions in California, US, have several plastic barrels filled with sand located in the middle of highways between traffic running in different directions.  The plastic barrels are in case a motor vehicle loses control, the driver can steer into the barrels (which act like a cushion), allowing the motor vehicle to slow to a stop without causing injury to the driver or to other vehicles . . . .

5 ( +8 / -3 )

The highway should have closed down or vehicles reduced with strict speed limits.

Japanese drivers follow too closely on the highways here with little regard for safe stopping distances at the best of times..

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Heavy snowfall blanketed wide areas of northern and northeastern Japan on Tuesday, causing a fatal multiple-vehicle collision on an expressway, with the weather agency warning of gales and snowstorms disrupting traffic.

Heavy snow causes 130-vehicle pile-up on Tohoku Expressway; one dead, 17 injured

That weather wasn't sudden thing that those drivers didn't know since weather service in Japna already warn this again and again. They just are under instruction to carry their business from their companies which they work on. At the end it caused them dead and injuries. This is really happens in Japan for any condition bad weather, earth quake or even pandemic, their companies will ask them to do business as ordinary day.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

The Japan Meteorological Agency's regional headquarters in Sendai registered a maximum wind speed of around 100 kilometers per hour, a record for January, near the accident site at around 11:55 a.m.

Winds that high will cause a whiteout. It doesn't even have to be snowing very hard, because the wind will carry accumulated snow off nearby fields. High winds will also strip the road itself down to an icy surface underneath. There is little snow at the accident site in the photo, no drifted snow even, suggesting this was an ice plus zero visibility problem.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

That weather wasn't sudden thing that those drivers didn't know since weather service in Japna already warn this again and again.

I think that's part of the issue. These weather warnings are like the boy who cried wolf. In the case of typhoons it's the same. People get complacent.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Drivers here often drive way too fast on snow. Like kohakuebisu said, it's not the snow. It's the ice. (Ironically, snow can actually give you more traction.) Too many drivers are unaware that they might hit a patch of ice and lose steering and braking at any time. They cruise along at a high speed in snow thinking they are fine. Until this kind of thing happens.

And, by the way, chains will not save anyone from ice.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I have never understood why, in a country which gets thick snow and ice every single year, there isn't a policy of gritting the roads in the winter. It's not such a complex thing to do.

But even in ultra-modern Tokyo and its suburbs, we have pavements like mirrors two days after a snowfall. Surely these things can be prepared for? It's not a surprise when things get cold in winter.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have never understood why, in a country which gets thick snow and ice every single year, there isn't a policy of gritting the roads in the winter. But even in ultra-modern Tokyo and its suburbs

Because Japan in the eye of government, only big cities and it's surrounding.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Heavy snow causes 130-vehicle pile-up on Tohoku Expressway

Actually, it's not the snow that caused this, the snow just is what it is. It's drivers driving too fast and too close together for the conditions.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Tragic. It looks like a big mess. Driving to the conditions is important.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posters are right to say that Japanese drive way to fast in snowy conditions. Unfortunately, the seasonal changeover to winter tyres (more of a sales ruse by dealers in my opinion - habitually snowy areas aside) seems to instill complacency inasmuch as drivers seem to think they can drive as usual because the magic tyres will protect them.

I recall on one occasion I was caught in the snow while driving home through the mountains. On that occasion I dared not drive faster than 20 km/h and caused quite a traffic jam. Maybe winter tyres would have helped on that occasion!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Tokyo-mToday  09:50 am JST

Actually, it's not the snow that caused this, the snow just is what it is. It's drivers driving too fast and too close together for the conditions.

Exactly, Truck drivers are mainly to blame, it's obvious from the positions of the smashed cars that most of them were hit from behind and pushed into the cars in front of them. Let's hope that there are some prosecutions.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

On top of blaming reckless and too tight driving of a great number of drivers in Japan, (be it professional or not) the preference of white coloured cars by the Japanese is also not of any aid in the mids of snowy winter.

Not to mention that most of them probably did not even swtich on their lights going in that whiteout phenomenon.

Tragic but expected.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

People stuck in snow overnight 2 times this year. Now big pileup people die.

Need to shut down the expressway. Weather forcast said snow and wind that area.

They are always so scared to inconvenience people by no shut down.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Two things I hate about driving on expressways in Japan are "middle lane hoggers" and the tailgating that seems to be normal regardless of the conditions. I saw an eye witness report. The guy said there was am accident involving 2 cars and a truck so he had to stop, then vehicle after vehicle slammed into him and the others.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Also, surprising and regrettable to see that very few cars here in Japan are fitted with high intensity rear fog lamps. They can be a life-saver in fog, heavy rain and white-outs like this, because they can be seen much sooner than ordinary brake lights.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

By the look of it in the picture, the trucks seemed to have slide and hit other cars on different lanes, therefore creating a chain reaction.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Truck drivers are mainly to blame..."

There is no factual information contained in the article, or reported from other media sources, which support this false assumption.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Awful.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If they know its going to snow a lot, why don't they get the snow salt sprinkling trucks out the night before and sprinkle salt on the roads to prevent this? Japan is one of the only countries with snow that leaves it on the road in smaller towns and areas which are still frequented by cars and trucks thus leaving a large window open for deadly snow related accidents.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If they know its going to snow a lot, why don't they get the snow salt sprinkling trucks out the night before and sprinkle salt on the roads to prevent this?

If the snow is heavy enough, gritting is not effective.

The alternative solution is, of course, for people to check the forecast and stay off the roads during inclement weather. Those who drive for work, such as HGV drivers, should clarify their company's policy on driving in heavy snow, and either reduce speed - significantly if necessary - or pull up in the nearest convenient SA/PA until it blows over (literally).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Its drivers responsibility to adapt speed and driving style to weather and road conditions.

It suppose to be road owners responsibility to keep roads in reasonably drivable non hazardous condition.

In other words if there is heavy snow and ice on road drive slowly,keep safe distance and at least have winter tyres on vehicle.This makes common sense.

In other words say owner of highway should move snow out of road and melt ice ion road so can be used at reduced driving speed,otherways they must close roads as they are not in good driving condition/hazardous condition.

These is no surprise that some parts of Japan have heavy snowfall despite agenda of global warming...better stay aware and be reasonable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While I strongly agree with the advice to look at the weather forecast and plan accordingly if heavy snow is predicted, you don't need snow to produce poor visibility. Conditions can also change drastically within an hour or two of the sun going down on what was a mild day, wet roads turning into skating rinks and valley bottoms filling with freezing fog.

I don't live near Sendai, but I wouldn't be surprised if the weather forecast there predicted 5-10cm of snow at the time of this accident. It would have been correct as well. This pile up and snarl up is very different to the snarl up on the Kan'etsu and more recently on the Hokuriku near Toyama City. Those were caused by record continued snowfall. The snarl up on the Kan'etsu happened at Minami Uonuma, the heart of Kawabata's "snow country" and probably the best-equipped road clearers in Japan. Despite all their (national taxpayer-funded) ploughs and scrapers and bulldozer-sized snowblowers, nature still won. So it goes. Shouganai. Mai pen rai.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They just are under instruction to carry their business from their companies which they work on......their companies will ask them to do business as ordinary day.

It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, when things do go horribly wrong, the consequences of that failure can be truly catastrophic. Margins of safety are often wafer thin and the assumptions that underpin them are often based on best case scenarios. Rather than err on the side of caution, it’s that take no prisoners mindset of pushing to the absolute limit and damn the torpedoes. Only here, it was a bridge too far. As the great man said; “a man’s got to know his limitations”.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are a lot of people up here, been up here their entire lives...and still have no idea how to prepare for and deal with driving in ice, snow, and/or poor visibility.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What’s the bet they were all trying to do 100 kph? Heavy snow and icy roads. Slow the heck down fools!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In a country where drivers go bumper to bumper no matter what speed or road conditions this happens all the time. This time just more vehicles than usual.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Heavy snow causes 130-vehicle pile-up on Tohoku Expressway;

one dead, 17 injured**

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The trouble is we make cars safer, as we make them safer car drivers think that they are safer so they drive faster, and take more risks, as we think that were more protected, Ive just looked at the above picture, there are two tankers they must be carrying a low hazard goods or they could be empty, if these were flamable goods like petrol, diesel, LPG the situation could have been more serious. I cant understand why companies send out goods vehicles in appaling conditions, I've seen it time and time again, especially in high winds, some lorries are blown over causing £xxxx's of damage to the goods, repairs and recovery costs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And, by the way, chains will not save anyone from ice.

Having lived in the snow country for a long time, not sure I agree with this. Chains are about the only things that do. I see a huge number of accidents in our area, usually young males in cars with Tokyo numbers with snow tires who think that will be enough. If you are on a slope with ice, chains are the only things that will get you up or down safely. Not the fancy ones, but the cheaper, standard metal ones. For anyone driving in winter where there can be snow, having a set in the back (and knowing how to put them on) can be a lifesaver.

Drive safe (and slow) everyone.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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