Wrong way accidents are among the most deadly types of crashes on the roads, although the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that they account for just three percent of all traffic collisions. Just recently, the Palm Beach Post reported on a 38-year-old Florida man who was killed on the Florida Turnpike after his 2008 Subaru was involved in a head-on collision when the man was driving the wrong way on the road.
Wrong way crashes happen when a driver is traveling opposite the flow of traffic and is illegally going in the wrong direction. They can be caused by drivers who try to pass on a two-lane road but who don't have time to do so safely; by drivers who mistake an off-ramp for an on-ramp; and by drivers who cross over a double yellow line, median or other traffic divider. In far too many cases, the wrong way accidents occur as a direct result of a driver who is intoxicated.
The NTSB has taken a strong stance to try to reduce the number of wrong way accidents that occur. An experienced head on collision attorney in West Palm Beach knows the risk. We note that since 1968 the agency made almost 50 recommendations, and around half related to reducing the risk of intoxicated motorists on the road. Despite the NTSB's efforts, however, wrong way accidents still continue to happen and still continue to cause hundreds of deaths each year. Reducing the risk of these accidents and knowing what to do in the event that you are in a lane with a wrong-way driver coming towards you is extremely important since wrong-way accidents are usually dangerous head-on crashes.
Reducing the Number of Wrong-Way Accidents
Data on wrong way accidents indicates that one of the best ways to reduce these types of crashes would be to reduce the number of people driving drunk. In a study of 1,566 fatal wrong way collisions that happened on divided highways between 2004 and 2009, the NTSB found that there were 360 fatalities. In as many as 60 percent of cases, the victim who was traveling in the wrong direction was over the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit.
Among the drunk drivers who were involved in wrong way accidents, 59 percent registered a BAC that was at least twice the legal permissible limit of .08. In another 10 percent of the total number of wrong way crashes, the driver was intoxicated but had a BAC somewhere between the legal limit of .08 and the high BAC of .15. NTSB data showed that of those motorists who were involved in deadly wrong-way accidents, nine percent had been arrested for driving while under the influence within the prior three years. By comparison, a control group of drivers in accidents who weren't going the wrong way had only 3.2 percent intoxicated motorists.
This data lends credence to the NTSB's suggestion that ignition interlock devices be required for all motorists who were convicted of a drunk driving offense, even if it was their first conviction.
Staying Safe from Wrong-Way Drivers
Unfortunately, innocent victims sometimes are hurt by a driver who is traveling in the wrong direction. If this happens to you, it is imperative that you get the right legal help to recover for your auto accident injuries. You can also try to reduce the risk of being hurt by a motorist who is traveling in the wrong direction by paying carefully attention to signs of a problem in front of you such as approaching headlights or the drivers braking ahead. If you see red flags that indicate a problem, slow down and try to pull into the right lane or try to pull off to the shoulder of the road and out of the way.
Contact a personal injury lawyer in West Palm Beach today. Call David J. Glatthorn at 800-990-9394 for a free case review.