Carnage Alley

Last year at this time I wrote a post about how treacherous the driving was on the southern leg of highway 401 in Ontario.  Aptly named “Carnage Alley”, it has been the site of some pretty horrific crashes.

To make matters worse, parts of the 40l along this southern leg have been under construction.  For 20 kilometre stretches, the highway is down to one lane, bordered by concrete barriers.  This creates a bottleneck of traffic along an already busy section of highway.

Unfortunately for me, driving on this highway is a necessity in order to visit my father, who lives in a retirement home in Amherstburg, a small town some 200 kilometres away.  Not one to push my luck,  I restrict my visits to Sundays, when there’s less traffic and fewer 18-wheelers.  This past Sunday I made the trip down, leaving first thing in the morning. My father and I had a nice visit and I left by midafternoon, thankful that my drive down was uneventful and hopeful that the trip back would be similarly peaceful.

But no.

About 70 kilometres outside of Amherstburg, the traffic slowed to a stop. Shit, I thought; an accident. I and the other drivers peered anxiously in our rearview mirrors, hoping the guy behind us didn’t rear-end us before we made our way off the highway. Thankfully everyone was paying attention.  I said a quick prayer for the unlucky driver(s) and hoped they were ok.

Our caravan of vehicles followed two large 18-wheelers off the highway and into town. (During a detour, always follow a trucker.  They’re usually the only ones who know where they’re going.) We followed them about 40 kilometres to the next highway ramp, which was in the neighbouring town of Chatham.  The ramp was open for business and mercifully past the construction zone. I got back on the highway and hoped that was the worst of it.

When I got home, I googled “401 highway closure”, curious about the accident for which I and many others were diverted. Apparently it was one of three, all occuring within a few hours of the other. The first one was the one for which I was diverted, and involved several vehicles.  There were minor injuries. The second one was an hour later, 40 kilometres ahead but going west, in the opposite direction from me. The third was the worst. Apparently stopped for the second accident, drivers in the westbound lane of the SAME ramp which an hour earlier I took to get back ON the highway were rear-ended by an inattentive driver.  A woman and her son were killed.

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One of several construction zones, 401 near Chatham

I ended my trip vowing I would find an alternate route home.  It might take longer, but at least I would arrive alive.

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Drive At Your Own Risk

The 401 is a major highway in Ontario, Canada, starting in the city of Windsor and stretching east to Quebec.  The Toronto leg, about mid-way going east, is considered the busiest in the world, and one that I’ve driven on more than one occasion grim-faced and white-knuckled.  Fortunately for me, most of my highway driving takes me in the other direction, toward Windsor, which over the years is proving to be as crazily treacherous as its eastern counterpart. Windsor is home to one of the busiest borders in the world, with about 1 billion in trade crossing back and forth between Windsor and Detroit, Michigan. There are over 30,000 trucks crossing that border daily, and they all take the 401 to get there.   Not surprisingly, there are horrific accidents which occur on the 401. Every summer, while I commute back and forth between London and Windsor to visit family, I’m tempted to kiss the ground every time I arrive at either end safely.

I’m not going to post photos of these accidents because they involve fatalities (and besides, I’m superstitious); instead, I thought I’d provide you with some rather amusing traffic misadventures which are real head-scratchers.

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I couldn’t even guess as to how a car ended up on a roof.

 

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Not a towing company I’d recommend.

 

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Wow.  Just…wow.

 

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I’m starting to think that getting a tow is a really bad idea.

 

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The driver wanted his roof safely removed from his vehicle.  Who am I to judge.

 

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This is how NOT to do a three-point turn.

 

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When a cobble road masquerades as quicksand.

 

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Again with the roof. Note to car:  You cannot fly.