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Lansing's New Accident Hotspot: US-127 at I-496

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An area that has already claimed one life, US-127 near the interchange with I-496, has been deemed Lansing, Michigan’s new accident hot spot. Since March 2008, there have been three major accidents involving large trucks and several other accidents involving cars. One of these accidents, which involved a fuel tanker and an SUV, has resulted in the death of a 61 year-old man. Each accident along this stretch of road seemed to have two things in common, high speed and a dangerous curve where the two major roads meet.

In April 2007, the speed limit surrounding the interchange of US-127 and I-496 in Lansing was increased from 55 m.p.h. to 70 m.p.h. The Michigan State Police stated the increase was due to the fact that many motorists were already driving faster than the posted speed limit, and it would help those drivers avoid the slower traffic that had become a potential hazard at this interchange. Instead, many Lansing residents believe that the increase in the speed limit has made this interchange more dangerous, especially near the curve.

The US-127/I-496 interchange forces vehicles to merge and change lanes while navigating a significant curve in the roadway. According to accident reports, this curve plays a huge role in many of the accidents in this area. In March 2008, a semi-tractor trailer overturned while heading northbound around the curve between the interchange of US-127 and I-496. This accident in itself caused two more minor accidents. In August 2008, there was an accident involving three cars once again traveling northbound around the curve between the interchange of US-127 and I-496. Again in August 2008, a fuel tanker overturned landing on an SUV. Both vehicles were traveling northbound on US-127 when the fuel tanker overturned on the curve between the interchange of US-127 and I-496, killing a male passenger in the SUV. In September 2008, another semi-tractor trailer rolled over coming around the curve on US-127 onto westbound I-496.

The central theme of all the above accidents seems to be the curve in the middle the interchange between US-127 and I-496. According to reports, local officials tend to blame these accidents on driver error and not on the particular stretch of highway. Local officials also blame wet roads as main contributors to accidents in this area. As a solution, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has begun a construction project that aims to coat the interchange of US-127 and I-496 with a special sealant that will provide a bit more traction for vehicles. However, MDOT warns drivers against a false sense of security due to the coating.

If you’re planning on driving through the Lansing area, or if you do so regularly as part of your daily commute, be aware of the hazards associated with the US-127/I-496 interchange. Drive defensively and give yourself enough time to arrive at your destination safely.