New Hampshire consecutive crash (“CC)” and chain-reaction accidents typically involve multi-vehicle collisions, often resulting in the most severe injuries. CC series accidents refer to instances of consecutive crashes composed of a primary accident and one or more subsequent secondary crashes that occur immediately within a certain distance. Chain-reaction accidents involve incidents where a collision occurs because of a sudden change of the lead vehicle. While there are many similarities between these types of accidents, by definition, CC series involves a group of multiple accidents, each of which can include single or multiple vehicles. In contrast, chain-reaction is considered as one crash with multiple vehicles.
Recently, a New Hampshire news report described a multi-vehicle crash on the Spaulding Turnpike that shut down two lanes of traffic. State police explained that they received reports of a two-vehicle collision, and moments later, additional reports came in about a third vehicle. An initial investigation revealed that a Volvo driver and a Nissan driver were traveling parallel in the southbound lane when the Nissan driver encroached into the Volvo’s path. As a result, both drivers took evasive steering actions to avoid a collision which caused both drivers to lose control of their cars. The Volvo driver stopped on the southbound on-ramp; however, the Nissan driver collided with a concrete barrier. Moments later, a Chevrolet driver traveling southbound slammed into the back of the Nissan. This impact dislodged the Nissan driver from the vehicle, and he was pronounced dead at the accident scene. A preliminary investigation indicates that distraction by an electronic device may have set the chain reaction into motion.
Traffic crashes are a serious concern for New Hampshire road users despite enhanced safety features in vehicles. Through significant research, a common understanding has formed that the severity of a secondary crash is highly dependent on the characteristics of the primary crash. In both CC and chain-reaction accidents, road design, traffic conditions, and the position of the primary crash all impact the result of the secondary accident. While there are many similarities, CCs often result in more burdens to the relevant road and traffic. These crashes involve multiple collisions in a limited area, which often causes congestions that are difficult to escape.