The section of Interstate 5 (I-5 or “the 5”) that spans nearly 800 miles traveling north-south through California is one of the most dangerous in the United States. According to a 2019 report by the Los Angeles Times, 192 deaths were recorded in accidents on the I-5 over a three-year period.
Although the I-5 passes through major population centers like San Diego and Los Angeles, serious accidents are not confined to the big cities. Indeed, some of the most hazardous stretches of the highway are farther to the north. The portion of I-5 that passes through southern Kern County (known colloquially as “The Grapevine” for the centuries of grape farming in the area) and into the Central Valley near Bakersfield (known as the Westside Freeway) is home to a number of unique hazards for drivers.
If you have been injured in a crash on The Grapevine or another section of Interstate 5, our auto accident lawyer can help. Contact The Law Offices of Mickey Fine today for a free consultation.
What Makes the I-5 So Dangerous?
One of the biggest issues on Interstate 5 is traffic congestion. The Grapevine and Westside Freeway see a high volume of cars, semi-trucks, and other vehicles, presenting multiple opportunities for collisions.
However, heavy traffic is not the only issue that makes these sections of I-5 dangerous. Some of the factors that increase the likelihood of accidents on the Grapevine and Westside Freeway parts of I-5 include:
As with many interstate highways, excess speed is a leading factor in accidents on the I-5. Whether drivers go too fast on flat stretches of road in the Central Valley or exceed the speed limit when trying to pass semis and other vehicles on the steeper portions of The Grapevine, unsafe driving speed commonly results in crashes.
The I-5 climbs in elevation after leaving Los Angeles County. As a result, inclement weather is a common concern for drivers in the area.
Depending on the time of year, areas of The Grapevine such as Tejon Pass may be subject to heavy rain and snowfall. The precipitation can lead to slick roads and reduced visibility, resulting in a higher potential for vehicle accidents.
In addition to snow and rain, wind is another common contributor to weather-related accidents. Those driving on The Grapevine may suffer a loss of control due to high winds, although the bigger threat is posed by the climate in the area.
Drought conditions can cause the soil in lands typically used for farming to become dry and dusty. The wind can pick up the dust and, depending on the volume of particulate matter in the air, create near-blackout conditions for drivers.
In fact, this year marks the 30th anniversary of a dust storm that enveloped a section of The Grapevine on I-5, resulting in a multi-car pileup that killed 17 people.
Driving the Tejon Pass is defined by multiple sections where the road slopes significantly. When descending the pass, some drivers may “ride their brakes” in an effort to avoid picking up too much speed. Unfortunately, riding the brakes results in wear and tear. If the brakes on a vehicle are old or poorly maintained, it will take longer for the vehicle to come to a complete stop.
Worn and malfunctioning brakes are an especially big problem for semi-trucks. Commercial drivers should have the experience and training to recognize the necessity of gradual braking and using low gears when traveling on a grade. Unfortunately, careless or inexperienced truckers may fail to operate their rigs prudently on steep grades.
The combination of operator error and inadequate maintenance of the rig may result in a truck accident. An experienced truck accident lawyer can identify all of the parties at fault for the accident (potentially including the driver, the trucking company, a parts manufacturer, etc.) and pursue compensation on your behalf.
Another issue involving tractor-trailers on Interstate 5 is overloaded and poorly balanced cargo. Of course, a trailer that is carrying too much weight or a load that is improperly distributed is a danger on any road. However, the conditions on I-5 discussed above magnify the inherent hazards posed by an overloaded 18-wheeler.
Bad weather or visibility, for example, might cause a truck driver to overcorrect in order to stay on the road. This sudden movement can cause an overloaded semi to jackknife or tip, resulting in an accident.
Injured on the I-5? Contact an Accident Attorney Today
Attorney Mickey Fine is a California native who has extensive familiarity with Interstate 5 and other major roads in the area. Our team recognizes the impact of serious injuries and fatalities caused by highway accidents, and we use our experience and proven track record to pursue fair compensation on behalf of our clients.
Please call The Law Offices of Mickey Fine at (661) 333-3333 today for a free consultation. Our motor vehicle accident lawyer serves clients in Bakersfield, and other areas of California.