Although, in general, freeways and interstates are considerably safer than rural roads because everyone is driving in the same direction and at close to the same speed, when accidents do occur on them, they are often fatal. Two reasons for this are the rapid speed that vehicles are traveling and also the likelihood of the involvement of heavy semi-trucks.
Interstate 65, which travels from Mobile, Alabama in the south to Gary, Indiana in the north, is a busy interstate that is particularly dangerous in the 106.9 miles between Marion County (Indianapolis) and Jasper County.
According to the Indiana Department of Transportation (DOT), the average daily traffic on I-65 in the six counties between Indianapolis and Jasper County increases each year.
Figures for 2019:
- Marion 155,060
- Boone 82,400
- Clinton 49,661
- Tippecanoe 40,351
- White 34,851
- Jasper 38,608
Highway hypnosis is the name given to a situation where one’s conscious mind zones out due to fatigue and monotony. Drivers can go on automatic pilot after miles of staring at nothing but white lines and a straight road. For that reason, the condition is sometimes referred to as “white line fever.”
The stretch of the interstate between Indianapolis and Jasper County is rural and unremarkable, other than a few small rolling hills and the crossing of the Wabash River near Lafayette. One may even describe the flat farmland as monotonous, which is one of the reasons it is so dangerous.
In a Purdue study, two sets of drivers were compared on a driving simulator. One set saw long stretches of landscape with no distinguishing features, while the other experienced a variety of farms, people, bridges, trees, and overpasses in their landscapes. The first group experienced slower reaction times and less precise steering movements. This fatigued behavior kicked in after only 20 minutes.
Now, consider the fact that the journey from Indianapolis to Jasper County on I-65 takes approximately an hour and 48 minutes on a good day, and you can see how this might be a problem.
Ways to Avoid Highway Hypnosis:
- Limit the number of miles you drive each day
- Take frequent breaks where you walk around and/or get a drink
- Check your rear and side-view mirrors often
- Open the window for fresh air or keep the air conditioning on
- Eat small snacks before driving rather than a heavy meal
- Listen to the radio
- Talk to your passengers
- Make note of road signs and traffic around your vehicle
I-65 is a major north-south artery, crucial for semis traveling back and forth between Lake Michigan and the Gulf of Mexico.
Of the vehicle accidents that occurred in Indiana in 2018, 14,877 involved a large truck. Of these, 125 were fatal crashes, and 1,860 were injury crashes.
Common causes of truck accidents:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Improper merges and lane changes
- Failure to check blind spots
- Equipment failure
- Road condition or debris
- Poor weather or poor visibility
Notable and recent accidents:
August 15, 2013: A distracted driver caused his semi-truck to rear-end a Jeep Grand Cherokee in Jasper County. The driver and six passengers died at the scene.
At least 11 people died in crashes involving semi-trailers on Interstate 65 in the Lafayette area in 2013.
February 2, 2021: A semi with a box-style trailer flipped on southbound Interstate 65 (near the north split with Interstate 70) after a crash with a passenger car, bringing traffic to a standstill.
February 7, 2021: A multi-vehicle crash killed one person and injured two in Marion County after a driver drove the wrong way on southbound I-65.
March 23, 2021: A fuel tanker struck a semi-truck carrying a double-trailer in White County, causing a fiery accident where one of the trailers was split in half. The driver of the tanker died at the scene.
April 11, 2021: A semi overturned on southbound lanes at mile 123, causing a shut down of several hours.
May 3, 2021: Two separate accidents, hours apart, involving semis, both of which occurred in the southbound lanes of I-65 at mile 111, caused the south lanes to be shut down for hours.
Between 2012 and 2016, more than 1,600 crashes occurred at the North Split, Indiana’s second busiest interchange
The state of Indiana began a major reconstruction project of the North Split on May 15; it is due to be completed by November of 2022.
The project should eliminate dangerous last-second merges, weaves, and lane changes, reduce bottlenecks, and increase safety at the point where I-65 and I-70 merge together.
In the meantime, INDOT has planned several detours for drivers but admits that there will be growing pains as people get accustomed to new traffic patterns.
If you have been injured in an accident — on I-65 or anywhere else in Indiana — the attorneys at Crossen Law Firm have the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively negotiate with insurance companies to obtain maximum compensation.
Schedule your free consultation with the Crossen Law Firm today by calling (317)-401-8626 or by contacting us online. Our contingency fee pricing means that you pay nothing unless we win a settlement.