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19 Highly Unusual Truck Spills

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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.

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Courtesy Umbrellium
These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
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Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between a Street, a Road, and an Avenue?
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Depending on where you live, your address will end in a different designation. You might live on 10th Street, or Meadow Lane, or Red Fox Road. Maybe those throughways intersect a road with a name like Washington Avenue or Park Place. Why the difference? There’s actually a method to the road-naming madness that goes beyond just the whims of urban designers.

Just like there are defined factors that distinguish a highway from a regular city street, there are characteristics that make streets, roads, and avenues distinct from one another. The difference between names like C Street and Avenue B comes down to variables like the size of the path, what surrounds it, and how it intersects with other roads.

A plain old “road,” for instance, is a general term for any throughway that connects two points. Like a square is also a rectangle, streets and avenues are types of roads.

“Streets” are public roads that have buildings on both sides. They’re often perpendicular to “avenues,” which historically were grander and wider. These days, the difference tends to be directional.

In Denver, for instance, naming conventions dictate that Streets run north-south and avenues run east-west. In Manhattan, it’s the opposite, with “Avenues” running north-south and streets running east-west. This isn’t always the case, though: in Washington, D.C., avenues run diagonal to the street grid.

Oddly enough, avenues and streets can be combined, too. In a naming convention particular to Tucson, Arizona, some roads are “Stravenues,” which run diagonal to the normal north-south/east-west grid. (The U.S. Postal Service recognizes these by the abbreviation “Stra.”)

There are many other kinds of street names, of course. "Boulevards," designed to funnel high-speed traffic away from residential and commercial streets, are even grander than avenues, with trees on either side and a sizable median. Then there are the smaller roads, with names that might feel familiar to anyone who’s driven around a suburban housing tract. A “Way” is a smaller side street that splits off from a road. A “Place” has a dead end, as does a “court,” which usually ends in a cul-de-sac. A “Lane” is narrow, and is usually located in a more remote, rural place. A "Drive" tends to wind around a natural landmark, like a mountain or a lake.

To get a better sense of the visual differences, a video from Vox handily illustrates these principles:

Now, you can look at an address and know plenty about the street without even seeing it. 


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