- Decades Later, Memories of the Worst Traffic Accidents in Michigan History Remain
Decades Later, Memories of the Worst Traffic Accidents in Michigan History Remain
Warning: this article contains descriptions and video clips of auto accidents that may be disturbing to some readers.
Being involved in an everyday car accident can be downright terrifying. Even worse are the disastrous crashes between relatively puny passenger vehicles and monstrous tractor-trailers. And if weather conditions are poor, massive multi-vehicle accidents involving dozens of cars and trucks can be utterly devastating.
Our beautiful state of Michigan has certainly seen more than its own share of notable and historic traffic accidents ever since the invention of automobiles in the early 20th century… especially when you consider the state’s penchant for intense, wintry weather! Michigan’s familiar motto – “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you” – was written long before some very unpleasant accidents resulted in countless injuries and fatalities on our state’s roadways.
Decades of advancements have resulted in a variety of new safety features from the basic (seatbelts, enclosed passenger compartments, improved braking) to the technologically complex (airbags, electronic stability control, back-up cameras). And although these innovations have no doubt significantly reduced the number of traffic accidents and fatalities over the years, notably extreme and large-scale accidents continue to occur. While we don’t intend to frighten anyone, we do wish to demonstrate just how destructive and life-changing accidents can be — to reinforce the importance of responsible and conscientious driving on the roads. Here are a few of the more noteworthy incidents (along with astonishing video clips) to occur within the state of Michigan:
- Nearly 200 vehicles were involved in a historic I-94 crash in January 2015. This monstrous, mass-casualty accident, involving the most vehicles ever in a Michigan accident, saw 76 semis and 117 cars collide in a fatal pileup near Galesburg. Miraculously, only one person died, but a semi carrying fireworks ignited, resulting in dozens of injuries, and multiple reckless driving citations. The incident was caught on phenomenally frightening video footage by other motorists who rushed in to help and made national news headlines (you simply have to see it to believe it).
- A massive, 40-car, pre-Christmas 2016 pileup happened on I-96. Three people were tragically killed and a dozen more were injured in this Livingston County crash on the highway’s westbound lanes. Black ice and whiteout conditions were blamed for this horrific scene, where cars and trucks alike were mashed tightly together between steel guardrails that perhaps kept the collision from expanding even more.
- A dramatic, fiery crash lit up the interstate in suburban Detroit last summer. It doesn’t have to be wintertime for terrible traffic incidents in Michigan. Consider last summer’s gasoline tanker explosion on I-75 in Troy, where an immense fire fueled by 13,000 gallons of burning gasoline did so much damage to the road surface that several lanes on the interstate had to be closed for weeks. Amazingly, no one was seriously injured in this unforgettable conflagration that was caught on video.
- Eleven people, including nine children under age 10, died in a rural 1997 accident. Mass fatalities aren’t limited to major traffic incidents on the interstates. Only two vehicles were involved in this terrifying crash at a rural intersection in Jackson County, but the outcome was nothing short of catastrophic. Police reported at the time that a pickup truck carrying the children (some of whom were riding in the bed of the vehicle) ran a stop sign and was hit by a dump truck crossing the intersection. Of the 13 people traveling in the pickup, only two survived. Those survivors (two children) were also seriously injured. Remarkably, the driver of the dump truck was somehow unhurt, and authorities subsequently cleared him of any wrongdoing in the crash.
- Traffic fatalities aren’t always limited to public roads. One infamous, televised accident happened on the Michigan Speedway (also located in Jackson County) in 1998 when three innocent race spectators were killed by flying debris when a racecar traveling at almost 200 miles per hour disintegrated after hitting a retaining wall. Six other people were also injured in the incident. The event received significant national attention, particularly because officials didn’t stop the race despite the tragic deaths.
- While we can’t pinpoint the reason it was so deadly, the fateful year of 1969 witnessed the highest number of deadly accidents ever recorded in Michigan. That year alone, nearly 2,500 people died in car crashes across the Great Lakes State. In recent years, annual traffic-related deaths in Michigan have averaged fewer than half that number. Is there an explanation for the falling fatality figures? Have we somehow started driving more safely since 1969? Did it have something to do with the Summer of Love? Maybe. But remember that in 1969, while there were far fewer cars on the road than there are today, fewer cars had seat belts, none had airbags, and many other useful safety features hadn’t yet been invented. All of these factors likely played a role in that appalling year’s sad statistics.
- Historically, fatal car accidents in Michigan date back 120 years. Accidents don’t have to involve mass casualties to make history. Michigan’s first recorded automobile-related fatality took place in 1902, when a wealthy Detroiter traveling in a horse-drawn carriage was hit by an early motorcar. As time passed, traffic safety innovations helped reduce danger in general, even as the growing number of vehicles on the state’s roads caused higher fatality figures overall. Incidentally, the Detroit News reports that Motown was the world’s first city to introduce stop signs, lane markers, traffic signals, and one-way streets – just a few of the many innovations born here in the Motor City!
To wrap this up, we reiterate that we hope you and those you love will never be involved in even a minor traffic accident, let alone one that makes history. But if you ever find yourself injured in any kind of accident, know that we’re ready to help you recover and to receive the compensation you deserve. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-39346), or visit us here. It’s no accident that we’ve won more than $1 billion for our deserving clients!