White-out conditions blamed in fatal crash

By WEEK Producer

January 24, 2014 Updated Jan 25, 2014 at 12:14 AM CDT

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind -- White-out conditions are being blamed for that massive pileup on I-94 in Indiana Thursday.

46 vehicles, including 20 trucks slammed into each other. Three people died and more than 20 others were injured.

Matt Giechly, an official of Indiana's Department of Transportation, says the department was aware of conditions at this time of the crash, but chose not to close down the highway.

"The conditions were slick," said Giechly, "but that's not uncommon for any snow event. At that point there wasn't any talk of closing that road down because the white out conditions weren't warranting that at that time."

The interstate was finally opened just after nine o'clock Friday morning, but, according to Kenneth Allen, a Chicago-area attorney, stronger enforcement of a federal trucking law might prevent tragic pileups like the one Thursday. Allen points to the law that requires truck drivers to slow down in hazardous conditions.

"That driver is on the job," Allen said. "That driver is supposed to be anticipating hazardous conditions and avoiding danger, not encountering it. Jurors often become the enforcers of the safety rules. The sad news is they don't get those cases until someone has been killed or hurt. "

However, a spokesperson for the Indiana State Police Department said Indiana leads the nation in commercial motor vehicle traffic enforcement and has for the last five years.