Southeastern PA

State police ID multiple causes of Pennsylvania Turnpike crashes

State police ID multiple causes of Pa. Turnpike crashes

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The investigation into a series of accidents on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bucks County last week is pointing to multiple causes, state police said Friday.

"We determined the crashes resulted from reduced visibility due to the sun's glare and tire spray from other vehicles, in addition to slick or slippery pavement conditions and excessive speed," said Capt Greg Bacher, Pa. State Police. "In fact, the investigations will result in the issuance of at least 10 motorist citations for traveling too fast for conditions."

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has begun a full review of the Feb. 14 incident that injured at least 30 people and tied up traffic for hours.

"This was an unfortunate set of circumstances that affected the lives of dozens of families, and we take very seriously our responsibility to protect the safety of our customers," said Mark Compton, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's chief executive officer. "Over the last week, I've reflected that it just as easily could have been my family. Fortunately, many of the injuries were minor; and it's a blessing that there were no life-threatening injuries given the circumstances."

The wrecks occurred about seven miles east of the Willow Grove interchange in Bucks County.

The turnpike said its after-incident review should take several weeks to complete.

"We absolutely want to understand if there was something we could have done that may have prevented or somehow mitigated the crashes," Compton said. "Plus, we need to consider if there's something different we could be doing to reduce or better respond to incidences like this in the future."

A legislative hearing on the turnpike pileups, as well as other weather-related crashes across Pennsylvania, also is being planned. It will be convened by Pa. Sen. John Rafferty, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, who represents parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.

"I spoke to Sen. Rafferty earlier this week to pledge our full participation and cooperation in the hearing," Compton said. "The work being done on the after-incident review will help ensure we're prepared to offer committee members a detailed account of the events of that day – including a discussion of what might be improved upon in addition to what worked well."

Turnpike officials have been criticized for lifting a speed limit restriction prior to the accidents. Despite the criticism, Compton said many things were handled well for a major snowstorm that lasted more than 50 hours.

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