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It was a nightmare for drivers on southern Ontario’s 400 highway Thursday. Were drivers to blame?

What happened: Driver error suspected in 96-car pileup

Rachel Schoutsen
Presenter, The Weather Network

Friday, February 28, 2014, 11:44 AM -

It was a nightmare for drivers on southern Ontario’s 400 highway Thursday.

PHOTOS: Dramatic images of the snow squall aftermath

Snow squalls developing off Georgian Bay pushed its way on to the adjacent highway and created zero visibility while caking the roads in snow.

For drivers, the problems began just after 9 a.m. ET when a call came over the scanners in the Beat the Traffic studio reporting, “We need multiple tows, about 60 cars have piled up on the 400, snow squalls in the area.”

What? Sixty vehicles!

Unfortunately it did not stop there; crashes were called in by the dozens as motorists tried to navigate the worsening conditions. The highway was closed in both directions at one point for a distance of about 30 km, Mapleview to Highwy 9.

Sergeant Dave Woodford told Beat the Traffic, “I am unsure of the exact cause of the accident, possibly it was six vehicles not driving to the conditions, then the chain reaction followed.”

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At one point there were so many vehicles, so tightly packed together on the 400 that officials had to cut the guardrail so they could move damaged vehicles from south bound lanes to the north bound side, just to get people out of the jam. Also, fire continuously checked on people trapped in their vehicles to make sure they were warm as the freezing temperatures complicated the process.

Photo: Jeremy Gaudet

Photo: Jeremy Gaudet

Jeremy Gaudet, a motorist on the 400 at the time of the pile up describes the scene as he approached the disaster. “It was white out conditions from before Barrie. Traffic was moving slowly approximately 60-70 km/hour . After passing Mapleview Dr at the south end of Barrie and travelling uphill I noticed that a vehicle in the north bound lane flashed their lights at me. I slowed down immediately which was fortunate as traffic came to a complete stop seconds later."

Gaudet was stuck on the south bound side of the 400 for nearly three hours.

Photo: Jeremy Gaudet

Photo: Jeremy Gaudet

As a result of the highway closure, side streets around the area like, Innisfil Beach Road (IBR) or 27, were packed with volume. Traffic was dragging along, and again snow squalls tested driving skills.

Woodford also mentioned that the highway fully reopened at about 7:00 pm Thursday night after a long clean up.

Photo: Jeremy Gaudet

Photo: Jeremy Gaudet

Snow squalls blamed on multi-vehicle crash in southern Ontario
PHOTOS: Snow squalls create treacherous driving in Ontario
Multi-vehicle crash closes Highway 400 near Barrie, Ontario, more closures and collisions reported across the region
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