what could go wrong?
First of all, why is it called an interstate? It's a highway that connects Flagstaff and Phoenix. In either city, I-17 dumps into an east/west interstate. As far as I can tell, I-17 doesn't cross any state lines.
Second of all, AZ has the infamous speed limits of 75 outside of metropolitan areas or mountain passes. Right now, going out of Phoenix, you're lucky if you can go 50 due to heavy volume. Once you get past the Carefree Highway, 75% of the cars get sucked into a vortex and the traffic is free to try and go the speed limit. About 10 miles later, you start the mountain pass, and you're lucky if you're going 45.
Third, outside the metropolitan areas, there are very few exits. Which means that when someone does something stupid and crashes their cars on the highway, you're stuck on a closed freeway. There's nowhere to go until they clear the accident. Don't even get me started just yet about "curiousity slowing".
Finally, since Flagstaff is in the mountains and Phoenix is in the valley, the freeway has to go through the mountains. Going up, the semis are slowed to a crawl and cars trying to zoom through it are like pinballs weaving in and out of the slower traffic. Going down, there's lots of "blind curves" and cars can go barreling down at 90+ MPH.
So I'm praying to the traffic gods to give me a smooth ride on I-17 going to Prescott Valley. The traffic gods obeyed, and except for the semis stuck crawling up the mountain pass, it was a great drive up there.
I forgot to pray again for the return trip.
Coming down the mountain pass, just before a blind curve, I see lots of red brake lights. So I start slowing down in anticipation of having to really slow down or stop. Sure enough, as I round the curve, the cars in front of me are stopped. I manage to stop without too much trouble. I notice the semis next to me have a lot of smoke coming from the tires, but stop without injury.
I then check my mirrors to the green car on my tail. He realizes a bit too late that we're stopped and are going nowhere. He starts fishtailing, I hear the squeal. Then to my horror, a white car behind me is fishtailing even worse. I'm beginning to think that I'm going to get creamed. The white car actually travels into the other lane, the green car jumps to the shoulder. He passes me on the shoulder bouncing up and down on the rough ground that is the shoulder. I'm worried he's going to roll or smack into an upcoming guard rail. White car manages to come to a stop behind me without any injuries. Green car manages to come to a stop on the shoulder without hitting anything.
By the way the green car ran onto the shoulder, I wondered if white car tapped his bumper. Green car dude gets out of his car to look for damage. White car moves to shoulder too. That's when I really thought white car hit green car. White car girl gets out and they start talking. Don't see any damage, but I'm sure they managed to settle things.
Why the sudden stop? Curiousity slowing. I don't understand how the accident happened because it looked like a head on collision, but how a car managed to go the wrong way is beyond my understanding. Maybe it was just a bumper tap, but the cars got on the shoulder in the opposite order. Yes, the cars were on the shoulder, and as soon as we crawled past them we were going again. The cops hadn't shown up to the accident yet, but it'd take them longer to get to the accident scene because they can't just ride a couple miles of shoulder to get there.
*sigh* Could have been much worse - at least the interstate wasn't closed for that accident.