2 Crashes Intensify Traffic Headaches

MTLong lines of vehicles standing still in one of the city's ubiquitous traffic jams on Leningradsky Prospekt on Tuesday.
Two major traffic accidents hospitalized six people early Tuesday and brought a second straight day of clogged streets to the city, quadrupling journey times for motorists already frustrated by Moscow's chronic gridlock.

At around 8:40 a.m. on Luzhnetsky Most, near the Sportivnaya metro station, the driver of an Opel veered into oncoming traffic and hit an Audi A6, RIA-Novosti reported.

Two other cars subsequently joined the pileup. The Opel and Audi drivers were admitted to hospital in critical condition. Three lanes of the six-lane highway were sealed off as a result, backing up traffic in both directions.

Around the same time, under Novoberezhkovsky Most, near the Kievskaya metro station, a BMW steered into a heating pipeline. The driver and a passenger were also admitted to hospital in critical condition.

Several others required medical attention in both collisions.

RIA-Novosti quoted an unidentified traffic police official as saying the two accidents led to massive traffic backups on Prospekt Vernadskogo and Komsomolsky Prospekt, commuter arteries that pump cars into the center from the southwest every morning.

A section of Prospekt Vernadskogo between the Yugo-Zapadnaya and Universitet metro stations is normally covered in about 20 minutes during the morning rush. It took a Moscow Times reporter one hour, 20 minutes Tuesday.

Drivers switched off the engines of their static cars and strolled around the clogged road.

Blogs were rife with ridicule of the city's driving culture on Tuesday, April Fool's Day.

"Judging by the number of traffic accidents, today is not just April Fool's Day, but April Fools on the Road Day," quipped one Live Journal user, referring to Gogol's famous complaint that Russia suffers from two problems: fools and roads -- duraki and dorogi in Russian.