Drivers allegedly following too closely to other vehicles caused a series of collisions between seven cars within about an hour apart in the same part of Highway 240.
The collisions occurred during heavy Hanford traffic moving from Highway 240 to eastbound Interstate 182 on Thursday. Four people were injured, according to the Washington State Patrol.
The first collision was at about 5:40 p.m. A blue 2011 Toyota Camry, driven by Victoria A. Conn, 24, of Kennewick, hit a maroon 2005 Toyota Scion hatchback from behind pushing it into a gray 2008 Ford F-150 pickup, according to the Washington State Patrol.
Conn and the Scion’s driver, Melvin W. Gallinger, 51, of Richland, were taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland to be treated for injuries. Both were later released.
The second collision took place a little more than an hour later and involved four cars. A blue 2009 Honda Accord was slowing for traffic when a black 2014 Subaru Outback, driven by Julie. A. Johanson, 30, of Richland, hit it from behind.
A brown 2002 Toyota Camry, driven by Laura K. Stevens, 26, of Richland, then hit a black 2014 Ford Escape SUV, which collided with the Outback.
The Escape’s driver, Wilberto Otero-Huertas, 57, and passenger, Ludmila A. Otero-Huertas, 58, both of West Richland, were taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland. Both were treated for injuries and later released.
State troopers issued tickets to Conn, Johanson and Stevens for following too close to other vehicles.
Highway 240 between Hanford and Kennewick is a known problem area for crashes and collisions, said Chris Thorson, Washington State Patrol trooper. He described the area as a well-designed highway with several lanes and space to deal with lots of traffic, but people are not paying attention.
“All of the (Highway) 240 bypass is a problem when Hanford employees go home,” said Thorson.
State patrol troopers like to keep an eye on Highway 240 when they get time to patrol the area in the evenings, Thorson said. Distracted driving cause collisions, but it’s hard to prove if drivers don’t admit they were on their phones.
Other problem traffic areas include Interstate 182 in Richland and Pasco, and near the blue bridge on Highway 395.