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 operations.
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 accident investigators!
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.