Mere hours after the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) lifted a 45 mph speed limit restriction for major roadways, the icy conditions on the turnpike outside Philadelphia contributed to a massive pile up this morning. Officials estimate that as many as 100 vehicles were involved in the enormous auto accident, leaving dozens injured and hundreds of motorists stranded.

An initial crash that involved 10 cars and five tractor-trailers led to subsequent crashes as motorists were unable to stop in time, resulting in overturned, jackknifed and sideways vehicles all colliding and piling up on the roadway.

Winter Weather Auto Accidents

Though PennDOT officially lifted the speed limit restriction prior to this pile up, state police at the scene reported that drivers may have been moving too fast for the icy conditions and driving too closely to one another, resulting in the chain reaction of auto accidents. The area had recently been hit by a winter storm, leaving about a foot of snow, as well as icy buildup on roadways including the turnpike.

As another major metropolitan area that is subjected to both severe winter weather conditions and heavy traffic, Chicago is a high-risk area for auto accidents like this morning’s pile up outside Philadelphia. And as that pile up demonstrates, when officials lift a formal speed limit restriction, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the roads are safe for normal driving—and anyone operating a vehicle is responsible for knowing that.

icy-roads-cause-100-car-pile-up outside Philadelphia

Who Is Responsible for a Winter Weather Auto Accident?

Even without an official warning, drivers should be able to identify when road conditions merit extra precaution. In the case of the Philadelphia pile up, reports say that ice was visibly built-up on the roadway around the time of the auto accident. Drivers experiencing a false sense of security because the speed limit restriction was lifted may have neglected to drive appropriately for the still-dangerous conditions, moving at unsafe speeds and following one another too closely.

The sheer number of auto accidents resulting from this pileup will undoubtedly create a logistical nightmare for the drivers involved and their insurance companies, and because so many people were injured in the pile up, they will almost certainly need auto accident attorneys to help sort out the details and hold the right people responsible.

Every driver on the road is responsible for operating their vehicle safely, whether or not a government organization has lowered the official speed limit or posted an inclement weather warning. If a driver fails to drive safely in severe weather conditions, their negligence can have serious consequences.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, the winter weather may not be the sole cause. Talk to one of the Chicago auto accident attorneys at Malman Law for a free evaluation of your case.