Six people were taken to the hospital following a three-vehicle crash on US-41 in Ishpeming Monday night.
An eastbound Honda Odyssey van driven by 46-year old Tessie Lundgren of Ada, Michigan failed to stop for a red light at the intersection of US-41 and Second Street. Lundgren's van struck a northbound van driven by 46-year old Terry Holmgren of Ishpeming. The force then sent Lundgren's vehicle into a Subaru driven by 20-year old Jordan Day of West Jordan, Utah. Day was stopped for the light in the westbound lane.
Three of the injured were admitted to hospitals for treatment. The remaining three were treated and released.
Authorities say it's not unusual for this kind of accident to happen at one of the US-41 intersections in Ishpeming.
The Ishpeming Police Department says they see at least 15 to 30 accidents at Second Street and Lakeshore Boulevard any given year.
The Michigan Department of Transportation has made an improvement to the Second Street intersection in hopes it will cut down on accidents, but they say ultimately it's up to drivers to keep these areas safe.
The intersections are the areas in Ishpeming where you're most likely to be injured. Officers say that's simply because of higher speeds. They're making extra efforts to control it.
"Officers are out there," says Sgt. Brandon Nylander of the Ishpeming Police Department. "Each officer spends an hour on US-41 everyday at least. They're out watching stoplights, proactively watching, trying to slow people down."
But are the posted speed limits simply too high? The Michigan Department of Transportation says no.
"The driving factor on setting speed limits is really a democratic thing," says traffic engineer Aaron Johnson. "We, as motorists, set the speed limits in Michigan and all over the U.S."
The speed limits are set by a study that records the average speed that 85 percent of motorists are traveling. That's 50 miles per hour at the Lakeshore Boulevard and 45 miles per hour at the Second Street intersection. Officials say that at both the Lakeshore Boulevard and Second Street intersections, the problem is the same: people simply aren't paying attention.
Monday's accident and most others are caused by a vehicle failing to yield at the red light.
Last year, MDOT installed a new light for the intersection at Second Street, with separate signal heads for each direction of traffic. They also have warning signs posted well before the intersections.
At this point both agencies say there's not much else they can do. Safety ultimately is up the drivers.
"There's issues, time and time again, through these intersections; they are driver error," Johnson said. "We'd ask people to take charge at the wheel, take responsibility for their own actions. Pay attention to what you're doing. You are the number one factor of your own safety at the wheel."
MDOT doesn't currently have any plans to conduct additional studies or make any changes to prevent further accidents at the Ishpeming intersections. They do say that areas with divided highways, like in Marquette Township that utilize 'Michigan lefts,' are safer, but that's just not an option in Ishpeming due to lack of space.