A wrong-way accident occurs when a motorist drives in the opposite direction to the flow of traffic. Due to speed and the nature of head-on collisions, wrong-way crashes are often fatal.
Although rare (wrong-way collisions make up only 1% of fatal accidents), the problem has gotten worse in recent years. Between 2015 and 2018, wrong-way crashes resulted in more than 2,000 deaths, an increase of 34% compared to the years 2010 to 2014.
Texas and Florida experienced the most deaths from wrong-way crashes; New Hampshire and Vermont tied for the least with less than one death average per year. From 2010 to 2018, Georgia recorded 112 wrong-way accidents and 135 wrong-way crash deaths.
Why Wrong Way Accidents Happen
Beyond drivers going the wrong way on a street or highway, researchers compared wrong-way drivers to “right-way” drivers to identify what factors go into wrong-way crashes. Out of the eight factors studied, three stood out: alcohol impairment, older age, and driving without a passenger.
Six in 10 wrong-way accidents involve a drunk driver. People with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit of 0.08% were more likely to be wrong-way drivers than non-alcohol-impaired drivers involved in the same wreck.
Nearly 87% of wrong-way drivers were alone, indicating that passengers often help alert drivers if they travel in the wrong direction.
Older drivers over the age of 70 are also more at risk of driving the wrong way, despite spending less time on the road and driving fewer miles.
Best Ways to Prevent Wrong Way Accidents
A series of recommendations were made by the AAA Foundation and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to curb wrong-way accidents, including:
- Install more visible signs and signals at locations with high rates of wrong-way accidents
- Adopt drunk driving countermeasures such as alcohol ignition locks to prevent drivers getting from behind the wheel while impaired
- Implement deterrence strategies such as sobriety checkpoints
- Adjust laws to identify at-risk older drivers and provide refresher courses
- Emphasize common sense safety messages about staying off the road while intoxicated, high, impaired by medication, or drowsy
Talk to a Wrong Way Accident Lawyer
Wrong-way wrecks may be rare, but they are incredibly devastating when they happen. They almost always leave innocent drivers and passengers with painful, disabling, or fatal injuries.
Victims of a wrong-way accident don’t have to deal with the trauma and recovery process on their own. A lawyer who specializes in personal injury or wrongful death will be able to help claimants navigate the complex maze of insurance requirements and fight for the financial compensation the victim and family need to move on with their lives.
At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we help Georgia families recover after a wrong-way car accident through diligent investigation and a thorough understanding of both the insurance and justice systems.
Don’t settle for less than what your case is worth. Contact our Atlanta wrong-way accident lawyers today for experienced and compassionate legal services.