What goes into clearing an accident so drivers can get moving again?

Mercer Auto Wreckers helped clear the ten-vehicle pileup on Interstate 80 in Hubbard on Friday morning

A pileup on I-80 in Hubbard.


HUBBARD, Ohio (WKBN) – When there’s a problem on Interstate 80, like the ten-vehicle pileup in Hubbard Friday morning, it can take time to clear. Even though accidents on I-80 tend to be big, clean-up time is being reduced thanks to a coordinated response.

Friday’s accident, which involved seven semi trucks, stalled traffic for two hours.

Mercer Auto Wreckers helped clear the roadway, even though the crash was in Ohio. Traffic was backed up past the state line.

When they get a call for an accident, Jack Carter jumps into the driver’s seat.

“It does give you a good feeling knowing you made everybody happy and helped everybody’s day out,” he said. “So that they’re not sitting in traffic any longer than they need to be.”

Jack and other auto wreckers have a meeting every winter with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to prepare. Winter is the most difficult time to clear a scene because of harsh weather, but they feel their plan is working pretty well.

“We haven’t had anything that major over a long period of time,” said Darrell Chapman, with PennDOT. “I think the longer one we had this year was the trailer which caught fire close to the Ohio line that was full of bananas. That took a while for the fire departments to extinguish that.”

Other factors determine how long the road will remain closed, including damage during an accident and if any lanes are blocked.

I-80 sees 14,000 vehicles go through Mercer County in each direction every day. It’s an important road for interstate commerce.

“Anytime we have a closure like that, we like to get it open, at least know our detour route and get our cue traffic out of there if it’s going to be a long period of time so we don’t have people sittin’,” Chapman said.

Traffic can keep moving if PennDOT can get one lane and one shoulder open.

State police, PennDOT, and the wreckers all agree there’s a simple solution to seeing a reduction in accidents.

“The biggest thing is just if people would slow down and move over for everything sitting alongside the road. A lot less people would get hurt and there’d be a lot less problems,” Carter said.

PennDOT posts traffic delays via their 511PA website and mobile app. Delays usually start as two-hour but the situation is monitored as rescue and clean-up crews narrow down the time when the road will be clear again.

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