With 95 cars, 25 people injured, and 3 dead, the Interstate 77 pile-up has gotten a lot of attention from Virginia State Police and Transportation officials and it is the talk of truck stops in nearby Wytheville.
We spoke to a handful of truckers traveling I-77 in Wytheville on Monday, and they all say something needs to change with the stretch in Fancy Gap.
Between the fog, wind, hills and drivers who don't slow down, many truckers are constantly worried about their safety.
“I do not like 77! That’s my worst highway. It’s a nightmare. During the wintertime it’s a nightmare, I try to stay off it,” truck driver Audrey Lee Perkins said.
The interstate can be a nightmare for truckers, but several drivers say the fog at Fancy Gap is the worst they’ve seen in their travels driving across the country.
“I’d call it worse than a nightmare. It’s worse than a nightmare, I guess there’s no words to describe it,” Perkins said.
Truckers say they face bigger challenges than other drivers. Not only are their vehicles bigger, it’s also harder for them to slow down and their trucks don’t go as fast.
“What I’m pulling is not important worth my life. It’s more important, your life, than being out here on this road,” Perkins said.
Virginia State Police blame Sunday’s pile-up on cars going too fast in the fog.
Truck driver Larry Quinn said the fog can affect visibility.
“Thick enough to cut with a knife, you can’t even see the white lines on the road,” Quinn said.
Even with the conditions, drivers are reckless.
“It’s just the people don’t slow down. You’re talking about a 90 car pileup. What tells you that? I can understand three, maybe four, maybe five. But ninety?!” Quinn said.
That’s the biggest gripe among the truckers who make the trip.
“They fly by you like they crazy. I say, ‘My God! That don’t make any sense!” Perkins said.
Aside from the fog, the wind on this particular stretch of Interstate 77 can turn these rigs into sails.
“I know what I’m carrying back here, I’m going to go spin out. I’m going to hurt somebody or hurt myself. I’m not out here trying to do that,” Perkins said.
These trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds, add the hills at Fancy Gap plus the wind, and the fog, that isn’t a good mix with aggressive drivers.
“Forget about trying to be on time. Forget about appointments. I don’t worry about appointments, I worry about being safe,” Perkins said.
When asked what they’d recommend to make the road safer, drivers made a drastic proposition.
“On Fancy Gap the best thing to do when gets foggy is close it,” Quinn said.
The proposition may be drastic, but you don’t see 95 car pile-ups often.