The risks and consequences of stop sign-running accidents

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Jan 14, 2011
St. Louis
This 2017 incident in Wisconsin, while not involving chasers, has similarities to the two fatal accidents caused by storm chasers running stop signs. A semi driver collided with a van with 7 occupants, one of which did not survive. The driver was charged with vehicular homicide and pleaded no contest to the charges in October.


Dashcam video from the semi:

This intersection has a similar configuration as the Texas and Minnesota fatal crash sites each in which a chaser ran a stop sign: flat terrain, straight roads, two intersecting rural two-lane highways with 55mph+ speed limits, blocked visibility of oncoming traffic by trees or corn fields and the lack of rumble strips as an additional alerter to vehicles of the stop sign ahead. As with the other two sites involving chasers, the Wisconsin intersection has also been a site of previous accidents of the same type. Officials have installed rumble strips at the Wisconsin intersection as a result of the accident.

A couple of things to note about these cases. This type of intersection (two-way stops at intersecting 2-lane highways) has long been recognized for high accident rates. In at least the MN and WI cases, the state has started evaluating many other similar intersections and initiatives are being undertaken to increase their safety - including rumble strips, larger stop signs and flashing lights. So, a case can be made that someone isn't 100% at fault in that there are inherent risks in having small signs on monotonous, straight roads as the only warning to a driver of an approaching hazard.

But ultimately, the driver is responsible. The at-fault parties are still on the hook for civil and criminal penalties. In the MN criminal case involving a chaser, the court imposed a 90-day suspended sentence. The civil suit was settled with the chaser agreeing to pay $100k to the victims' family. The (non-chaser) WI case is also proceeding with the driver being sentenced later this year. No question that similar charges would have resulted in the Texas chaser case if the driver survived.

Jail sentences, sometimes significant, are commonly imposed on these type of accidents:

10 days:

11.5 years:

100 days:

3 years:

45 days house arrest:

1 year:

5 years:

In my estimation, running a stop sign may be the biggest single risk in storm chasing. There have been two fatal accidents of this type involving chasers, and probably many more nonfatals that we don't know about. A fatal crash will destroy the lives of everyone involved.

Edit: thread moved and re-titled.
Last edited:
Jan 18, 2009
Benton, Arkansas
Wow!!!!! The only warning of the upcoming stop sign was a warning sign 1/4 mile before the intersection. I can see where that could be easily missed if one were not paying attention, storm chasing or not, as in this case.
People are simply too distracted now days to see everything. (Not an excuse). Rumble strips are a great idea as are stop signs with solar-powered, flashing red LED's. But you can't put rumble strips on dirt roads and there are hundreds of thousands of similar intersections.


Oct 26, 2010
Greenwood, SC
Wow. Viewing this in slow motion shows just how close they came to a full broadside impact. In my humble opinion the van with 7 occupants were milliseconds away from losing all their lives. Scary to say the very least.

Wow!!!!! The only warning of the upcoming stop sign was a warning sign 1/4 mile before the intersection. I can see where that could be easily missed if one were not paying attention, storm chasing or not, as in this case.
IMHO that should be more than enough. I think the key words above are "not paying attention." If you are driving at 55+ mph, you should ALWAYS be paying attention, storm chasing or not.
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That video is disturbing, particularly that the semi driver was distracted enough to miss the stop sign ahead marker that was clearly visible towards the beginning of the video.

That said, the chaser accident in Minnesota also highlights the responsibility of DOTs to maintain their right-of-way. The fact that it took a fatal accident to get changes made to a previously problematic intersection poorly reflects on MnDOT, especially when the stop sign at that intersection was obscured. That doesn't absolve the chaser of blame as you should never go blowing through any rural intersection without your wits about you.
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Jan 14, 2011
St. Louis
I added a couple of things to the original post, including examples of jail sentences, and moved the thread to Intro Weather and Chasing. It seemed more appropriate to have a thread on the subject of stop signs instead of discussion of just one accident.