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Can a highway be dangerous?

 

We all know that under certain conditions, most roads can be dangerous. Even the street in front of your home can be dangerous when coated with ice or during a thick fog, where you can barely see the end of your car's hood. But you sometimes may hear people comment that "that section of road is dangerous."

 

After the massive series of crashes last winter on Interstate 94 that involved 193 vehicles and killed one driver, some argued that that 25-mile section of I-94 was particularly dangerous. Michigan legislators in the area called for MDOT to investigate if that were true, and what changes could be made to improve traffic safety in the area. 

 

The report was released this week by Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan State Police and the Federal Highway Administration, and it found that statistically the area was not significantly more dangerous than most other sections of interstate in Michigan, there were some improvements that could be made to the highway. However, that section of the highway did have the third highest number of crashes in the state.

The report did point to changes, which include adding lanes and moving of the cable median barrier. During the pile-up, some secondary accidents were attributed to vehicles striking the cable barrier, but because of its location just off the left shoulder of the lane, the vehicles would remain in the traffic lane. These vehicles were then involved in additional crashes as vehicles were unable to avoid striking them.

The report reinforced the message that many of the drivers involved in these crashes were traveling too fast for the conditions. MSP cited 58 drivers for excessive speed, and a majority of wintertime crashes on I-94 are due to driving too fast for conditions.

With the return of wintertime driving, all drivers should take that warning to heart and slow down. If you cannot see because of curves, hills or weather conditions, you should always reduce your speed, to avoid unfortunate surprises.

Source: mlive.com, "Widening I-94, moving cable barriers among recommendations in safety audit," Rex Hall Jr., November 30, 2015    

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