Sheriff Says Drivers Aren't Paying Attention on I-94

A busy highway was at a standstill Monday night because of a fatal accident, and it seems it's only a matter of time until the next serious crash.

They're happening along I-94 in the Jackson County area, and it has law enforcement there extremely concerned and a little baffled.

  • Sheriff Steve Rand is used to handling accidents, but nothing quite as frequent and severe as all the ones most recently. Shannon Kantner went for a drive with Sheriff Rand along the dangerous stretch of I-94 to figure out why these accidents keep happening.

  • "I live pretty near where these crashes occur, and my immediate concern was my wife and kids, and how are they," Rand said. That's been going through his mind a lot lately. In his 20 years with Jackson County, Sheriff Rand has never experienced a string of accidents like this.

  • "I hope people pay closer attention to what's going on on the roadways," Rand said. Rand said that's what it boils down to: people need to pay attention. The recent accidents haven't been teen drivers texting, it's adults being unaware of what's ahead of them. Even while driving in a clearly marked sheriff's car, another vehicle got impatient and tried to pass us, subsequently going well over the speed limit.

  • "Be cognizant of what's going on behind you, what's going on to either side of you, so you're not pulling in front of another vehicle or cutting someone off," Rand said. Leaving room in front of you is the main idea though. It's called "heads up driving," being able to see what's ahead of you for half a mile. "I think that's what's really plagued us lately is that there hasn't been that courtesy extended to people leaving just a little extra room," Rand said.

  • Drivers are definitely noticing the lack of courtesy. "When I get out there and it gets so jammed like that, it makes me really really nervous," Carol Brown said. "Now I just avoid it all and take the back roads." Many people are quick to blame it on semi trucks, but drivers aren't making it easy on them either.

  • "Trucks have a tough job to do," Rand said. "Stay out of their blind spot. Being next to a truck on the freeway, I think is just a bad idea." As for construction zones, the sheriff points out that roadwork signs are posted miles before it begins for a reason. "When people start seeing those signs, they need to worry less about being to their destination five minutes sooner and worry more about just getting there safely," Rand said.

  • The sheriff's department and the State Police Jackson post plan to increase their presence on I-94. The State Police are also scratching their heads about all the accidents. They're going to discuss what's going on with MDOT, and place more troopers in construction zones in order to slow traffic down and make people more aware. Click on the image above for video from Shannon's ride-along.