First Alert In-Depth: Poor visibility on the roads

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – I am sure you have seen some of this video that was taken Monday in eastern Pennsylvania. This was a horrendous car crash with a pile-up of more than sixty vehicles. This resulted from two reasons, namely visibility and the speed of the vehicles.

We can have human observers telling us how good the visibility at one location or another, but we also have automated systems that can help make the difference. This is a look at one of these automated systems. This is called a transmissometer. This is some hi-tech instrumentation that is primarily used at airports. It is an automated system so you get an instantaneous read-out of what the visibility looks like at a given location. This is accomplished by using a column of light that is going to go from one location to another location. That light goes through an absorption process and the light is scattered and that then determines the visibility.

What reduces the visibility in weather? We know lake effect snow is a big factor. But fog can be a problem, heavy rain can be a problem and also air pollution or smoke.

There are a couple of things that you can do to prevent these accidents. And is effective as driving tips when dealing with this kind of weather. Number one, leave some extra time when traveling. If you run into these kinds of conditions, and if you are not trying to get from one location to another location too quickly, you will naturally slow down your speed. Number two, turn on your lights or turn on your four-way flashers. This is a good idea if visibility is down to one sixteenth of a mile. Stay alert for stalled vehicles on the other side of the road. And if you have the opportunity, the simplest way it is just a wait for the weather to pass.