3 Dead After 30 Vehicle Pileup Near Fowlerville, Michigan
Snow, Ice, and Bad Decisions Are a Deadly Mix
A mixture of snow, ice, and wind is being blamed for a 30+ vehicle pileup
on I-94 near Fowlerville that left at least 3 people dead and 11 injured
as a winter storm slammed into Central Michigan during the overnight hours
of December 8th – 9th.
Preliminary reports said that a tractor-trailer rig belonging to an unknown
company had jackknifed at around 9:30 this morning, precipitating the
pileup as other vehicles were left with nowhere to go found themselves
being shoved into other wrecked cars and trucks by overtaking traffic
that were also unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.
The accident is the latest to have occurred on I-94 and in Central Michigan
over the last few years, making it one of the deadliest sections of highway
in the country.
January 9th, 2015: 1 person was killed and 22 were injured in a 194 vehicle
pileup near Battle Creek that shut down a portion of I-94 for almost 2
days. Weather was a significant factor in the accident.
- October 26th, 2015: The Michigan State Police release a study confirming
that the I-94 corridor, particularly in southwestern Michigan, has the
scene of multiple accidents involving 18-wheelers and that winter conditions
combined with driving too fast for weather conditions appeared to be major
factors in many of these accidents.
- January 17th, 2016: 2 people were killed in 42 vehicle pileup near Hartford,
MI. Weather conditions were reported as “near blizzard.”
Why Would a Professional Truck Driver Take Such Risks?
If we make the assumption that common sense and good judgement would have
suggested that driving conditions were at the best poor and deteriorating
by the hour, we have to ask why anyone would be attempting to drive a
large tractor-trailer rig into weather that sets up conditions that are
known to create 18-wheeler accidents.
Part of the answer to this question is the fact that trucking company dispatchers
and trip schedulers are often hundreds of miles away from the trucks they
are working with and thus have no idea what the weather conditions are
“on the road.” Dispatchers and their supervisors have to rely
on the drivers for weather and road conditions reports but, as a rule,
care only that the load is delivered on time, unloaded on time, and the
that the now-empty truck get back on the road to pick up the next load.
Another factor is that trucking companies are not known for their concerns
for the welfare of their drivers. To the management teams of most interstate
trucking outfits, a driver is someone to be tolerated because drivers
are always complaining about one thing or another and the weather is just
“another.” “If the driver doesn’t like the working
conditions, he or she can just quit because we can always find another
driver…” is the prevailing management theory at most trucking
Finally, there must be consideration to why state police authorities did
not shut down the highway sooner, before these accidents had the chance
to occur. For whatever reasons, a truck that is
not on the highway during a blizzard
cannot be involved in an accident.
Anyone who was injured, or had a family member who was killed, in one of
the all-too-frequent big rig accidents on I-94 could make a pretty good
case for negligence in the supervision of company drivers and even in
the supervision of owner-operators that are running under a company’s
operating authority. The main problem with proving negligence in supervision
is that trucking accidents are usually not investigated by a personal
injury and wrongful death lawyer who is ready to bring in his or her own
team of trucking accident investigators who are recognized as experts
in their fields by the people whose opinions matter the most: other trucking
Many professional trucking accident investigators come from inside the
trucking industry and have probably seen “every trick in the book”
when it comes to the things that a trucking company, and its insurance
carriers, will use to convince someone that their personal injury or wrongful
death claim is worth far less than the victim and the victim’s family
are entitled to receive. Sadly, all too many accident victims have been
deceived by these dishonest tactics and suffer for it every day.