In yet another example of internet mass media hysteria (reporters not checking facts and racing to get the story out quickly in the unholy pursuit of the holy dollar), a pile-up of 14 cars in Japan on Sunday morning has been universally labelled as the the world's most expensive automobile accident. Among the wreckage were eight Ferraris (including two F430s, two F355s, two 360 Modenas and an F512), a Lamborghini Diablo, a Nissan GT-R and a Mercedes CL600, and while there will certainly be a few very expensive repair bills, the crash doesn't even come close to being the world's most costly.

It's something we're seeing increasingly often at Gizmag. You see a story which has some elements which make it worth looking at, and when you begin assembling the information, hundreds of internet sites are reporting what are basically a handful of unchecked facts and erroneous assumptions.

Yes, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Mercedes cost a lot of money, but there were only 14 vehicles in total in the pile-up and no-one was killed or even seriously injured. Just three days prior to this 14-car accident, there was a far more serious pile-up in Tennessee which involved 176 vehicles, one death and 16-18 injuries.

Just a month ago, there was an even more tragic (and costly) pile-up on the M5 in Somerset. It involved 34 vehicles, seven fatalities and 51 injuries and while there may not have been as much expensive machinery involved, insurance companies will be paying out far more money than will occur in Japan.

Mass pile-ups of far greater magnitude are not that uncommon and you don't need to do much research to recognize that there have been many more expensive automobile accidents including a 60 vehicle accident in UAE in March 2008 during which 25 vehicles caught fire, three people died and 277 were injured.

The same Wikipedia entry lists 18 accidents in which more than 100 vehicles have been involved and there are almost certainly many more which are not listed.

Wikipedia also lists dozens of accidents where more than 14 people were killed (the same number of cars in this accident) and people are worth more than Ferraris.

Finally, to all those organizations (more than 500 such stories are listed on Google News) which immediately picked up on some headline writer's erroneous claim that this was the world's most expensive automobile accident and reported it as news ... bollocks! You should be ashamed of yourself.