19 Highly Unusual Truck Spills


Today, two trucks collided on I-95 in Florida, spilling their precious cargo—Busch beer and Frito-Lay chips—all over the highway. (Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, but according to a spokesperson for the Florida Highway Patrol, the goods will be thrown out.) This kind of thing happens from time to time, with everything from beer to bull semen ending up as a roadside attraction. 

1. BEER 

In August 2015, a 23-year-old trucker became distracted by his canine driving companion and lost control of his vehicle, swerving into the center median guardrail on I-75 in Florida. The Bud Light truck tipped onto its side and spilled Natural Light (owned by Anheuser-Busch) beer cans along the road and adjacent grass. The driver and his small pooch walked away without any injuries, while millions of college students said a prayer for their beloved Natty Light.


Just two days after the Natty Light spill, a produce truck dumped 20 tons of pears out onto the highway in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in China. Villagers in the area acted fast and arrived on the scene with bags to collect the stray fruit. Some loaded up entire cars and trucks, making multiple trips to capitalize on the accident. Although the pears were worth about 80,000 yuan, the owner did not mind the ransack because the produce was too damaged to sell. 


Thirty thousand pounds of frozen Butterball turkeys were on their way to Costco for Thanksgiving 2014 when the truck took an exit too fast and tipped over on a California Bay Area highway. The turkeys were boxed and safe from harm but could no longer be sold in stores due to the accident. Thankfully, the food didn’t go to waste: It was donated to the Alameda County Food Bank in Oakland. 


In 2011, a truck carrying 40,000 pounds of Edy’s Ice Cream took a spill on Interstate 69 in Indiana. The truck was intact after the accident, but when tow trucks were pulling the truck to the shoulder, ice cream containers came pouring out. Thanks to freezing weather conditions, a good chunk of the frozen booty was preserved and loaded onto a different truck. The truck driver sustained only minor injuries and was checked into a local hospital. 


In 2014, a van loaded with live crabs collided with an SUV in China, causing the pincered animals to become strewn about on the street. On top of the dozens of crabs, there was also a single crocodile (no big deal), which was safely netted. People who witnessed the incident immediately scrambled to pick up the little crustaceans and shoved them into bags, bins, and purses. Together, they all gave new meaning to the phrase "street meat."


In the fall of 2011, a truck overturned on I-74 in Illinois, letting loose 20 tons of food, including chocolate cake, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and—in a case of "one of these things is not like the others"—bratwursts. It took seven and half hours to clean up the delicious mess, but thankfully no one was seriously injured.


In 2012, a truck carrying 3000 gallons of paint toppled over in a small town in Brazil. The spilled paint mixed together, creating a beautiful pastel swirl of colors on the street. 


A truck wasn't exactly responsible for these spilled pieces, but it did cause a major kerfuffle on the highway. A family cruising on I-79 in West Virginia accidentally dumped their crate of LEGO bricks—which were strapped to the top of the vehicle—and scattered them across the interstate. The 11-year-old owner of the bricks was heartbroken, but many kind-hearted Facebook users offered to donate LEGO pieces and money to replace his collection. LEGO Maniacs sure are generous. 

9. WINE 

When a truck traveling on Highway 132 in California clipped a van and rolled over last year, it unleashed about 48,000 pounds of bottled wine. The truck driver and the riders of the van were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. 

10.  BEES 

For all their virtues, bees aren't the most popular road trip companions—which means most readers will be thankful to have missed this spill. In April 2015, a truck carrying a shipment of honeybees tipped over on a Washington state highway, and millions of the angry insects took to the sky after freeing themselves from the wreck. Beekeepers managed to save some hives, but most had to be killed with foam after attacking innocent bystanders.


In 2007, a truck took a curve too quickly and flipped over on a Colombian highway—and the cocaine that had been lining the walls and roof burst out of its hiding place and all over the pavement. The driver was not hurt, but was definitely arrested. 


An absent-minded truck driver caused a serious traffic jam in 2012 after forgetting to properly close the back of his vehicle. Motorists in Kolobrzeg, Poland were held up as 24 tons of sardines spilled from inside the truck onto the road. The trucker was asked to pay $7500 for clean up as well as a $75 fine.


In 2011, a Greyhound bus in Tennessee alerted the fire department that it lost part of its load—bull semen. Emergency personnel arrived on the scene to find four small propane-sized canisters that gave off a vapor and an unpleasant smell. Learning that the vapor was just dry ice and not something more dangerous, the workers quickly cleared the canisters from the highway. 

14. BACON 

In June 2015, a truck holding 70,000 pounds of bacon stalled on train tracks in Wilmington, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. An Amtrak train then collided with the vehicle, overturning it and revealing its mouth-watering contents. Remarkably, no one was hurt in the accident.


The Taiwanese city of Tainan looked like the set of a slasher movie after a 56-foot sperm whale exploded on its way through town. The whale had beached itself earlier, and was being carted via flatbed truck to a research facility for an autopsy. As the whale lay rotting in the sun, gases began to build up inside its carcass until they detonated in a flood of whale guts. 


In 2004, a wrecked armored truck spilled more than $2 million in coins on the New Jersey Turnpike. In 2005, another truck caught fire and spilled $800,000 in scalding quarters on an Alabama road. And in 2008, a truck carrying more than 3.5 million nickels (worth about $185,000) to the Miami Federal Reserve dumped its load after a violent wreck that killed the passenger.


What do you do when a 200-ton marine engine destined for a San Diego shipyard flips off its flatbed? Get a crane. Actually, get three cranes—and a new road. The massive engine pancaked three parked cars (there was only one occupant among the parked vehicles, who sustained only minor injuries), and even shoved one below the pavement. For a cool description of how engineers retrieved the engine and put it back onto a truck, check out the San Diego Union-Tribune's original article on the crash.


In 2005, a truck carrying 35,000 pounds of explosives rolled over on a Utah highway and (in classic A-Team fashion) blew up moments after the driver and passenger escaped. The blast dug a crater 30 feet deep and 70 feet wide. It also sent concrete road barriers hundreds of feet in the air and twisted nearby railroad tracks like straws. Fortunately, no one was killed in the incident.

19. FISH

In October 2015, a truck carrying hundreds of dead fish emptied its contents onto a road near Kilbarchan, Scotland. The fish were en route to a waste management company, and while an unfortunate incident no doubt, the upside to this spill is that it led to some incredible jokes.

Michael Gottschalk, AFP/Getty Images
Germany Wants to Fight Air Pollution With Free Public Transit
Michael Gottschalk, AFP/Getty Images
Michael Gottschalk, AFP/Getty Images

Getting people out of their cars is an essential part of combating climate change. By one estimate, getting people to ditch their two-car household for just one car and a public transit commute could save up to 30 percent in carbon dioxide emissions [PDF]. But how do you convince commuters to take the train or the bus? In Germany, the answer may be making all public transit free, according to The Local.

According to a letter from three of Germany's government ministers to the European Union Environment Commissioner, in 2018, Germany will test free public transit in five western German cities, including Bonn. Germany has failed to meet EU air pollution limits for several years, and has been warned that it could face heavy fines if the country doesn't clean up its air. In a report from 2017, the European Environment Agency estimated that 80,767 premature deaths in Germany in 2014 were due to air pollution.

City officials in the regions where free transport will be tested say there may be some difficulty getting ahold of enough electric buses to support the increase in ridership, though, and their systems will likely need more trains and bus lines to make the plan work.

Germany isn't the first to test out free public transportation, though it may be the first to do it on a nation-wide level. The Estonian capital of Tallinn tried in 2013, with less-than-stellar results. Ridership didn't surge as high as expected—one study found that the elimination of fares only resulted in a 1.2 percent increase in demand for service. And that doesn't necessarily mean that those new riders were jumping out of their cars, since those who would otherwise bike or walk might take the opportunity to hop on the bus more often if they don't have to load a transit card.

Transportation isn't prohibitively expensive in Germany, and Germans already ride public transit at much higher rates than people do in the U.S. In Berlin, it costs about $4 a ride—more expensive than a ride in Paris or Madrid but about what you'd pay in Geneva, and cheaper than the lowest fare in London. And there are already discounts for kids, students, and the elderly. While that doesn't necessarily mean making public transit free isn't worth it, it does mean that eliminating fares might not make the huge dent in car emissions that the government hopes it will.

What could bring in more riders? Improving existing service. According to research on transportation ridership, doing things like improving waits and transfer times bring in far more new riders than reducing fares. As one study puts it, "This seldom happens, however, since transport managers often cannot resist the idea of reducing passenger fares even though the practice is known to have less impact on ridership."

The same study notes that increasing the prices of other modes of transit (say, making road tolls and parking fees higher to make driving the more expensive choice) is a more effective way of forcing people out of their cars and onto trains and buses. But that tends to be more unpopular than just giving people free bus passes.

[h/t The Local]

Here's How Much Traffic Congestion Costs the World's Biggest Cities

Traffic congestion isn't just a nuisance for the people who get trapped in gridlock on their way to work, it’s also a problem for a city's economy, City Lab reports. According to a study from the transportation consulting firm INRIX, all that time stuck in traffic can cost the world’s major cities tens of billions of dollars each year.

The study, the largest to examine vehicle traffic on a global scale, measured congestion in 1360 cities across 38 countries. Los Angeles ranked number one internationally with drivers spending an average of 102 hours in traffic jams during peak times in a year. Moscow and New York City were close behind, both with 91 lost hours, followed by Sao Paulo in Brazil with 86 and San Francisco with 79.

INRIX also calculated the total cost to the cities based on their congestion numbers. While Los Angeles loses a whopping $19.2 billion a year to time wasted on the road, New York City takes the biggest hit. Traffic accounts for $33.7 billion lost by the city annually, or an average of $2982 per driver. The cost is $10.6 billion a year for San Francisco and $7.1 billion for Atlanta. Those figures are based on factors like the loss of productivity from workers stuck in their cars, higher road transportation costs, and the fuel burned by vehicles going nowhere.

Congestion on the highway can be caused by something as dramatic as a car crash or as minor as a nervous driver tapping their brakes too often. Driverless cars could eventually fix this problem, but until then, the fastest solution may be to discourage people from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

[h/t City Lab]


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