It’s one of the deadliest types of crashes in California and the United States, but did you know that the cause of wrong-way crashes is most often 100 percent preventable?
Indeed, wrong-way collisions make headlines because there are most always tragic results, but what makes it even worse is most of these crashes are the result of a drunk, drugged or overmedicated driver at the wheel.
“When two drivers heading in opposite directions collide you have double the force creating significant damage and causalities,” said Attorney James Johnson, a personal injury attorney who represents victims of crashes such as these. “The best way to avoid wrong-way drivers is to not drive in the fast lanes at night where most of these crashes occur.”
Alcohol and Wrong-way Crashes
Roughly 60 percent of all fatal wrong-way crashes involved a drunk driver compared to roughly 6.5 percent of drivers in other types of fatal crashes, a study by the California Department of Transportation has found.
Also, the report shows that 9 percent of wrong-way drivers had previous DUI convictions compared to only 3.2 percent of other fatal crashes.
The National Transportation Safety Board conducted this study called the Highway Special Investigation Report on Wrong-way Driving in 2012. These are crashes that most often occur in the fast lane at high speeds and late at night. A time when many drunken drivers hit the road after a night on the town. There are higher fatality rates than any other type of crash and there are no signs of these crashes slowing down.
A California Department of Transportation (DOT) study reported that wrong-way crashes have a fatality rate 12 times higher than other types of collisions. In fact, an average of 360 people are killed in 260 wrong-way crashes annually, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board. They make up roughly 3 percent of all fatal crashes that take place on divided highways and freeways, the report said.
These are crashes take place on divided freeways or highways where vehicles are traveling at high speeds. It’s different from head-on collisions because the driver enters the roadway through an exit sign, rather than veering into opposing traffic where there is no divider as in a head-on crash.
Wrong-way Driver Crashes in California
The tragedies associated with wrong-way collisions are staggering. Just in California alone over the past year here are some of the crashes that made news.
Three men were killed in a crash on May 12, 2015 when the driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck drove the wrong way in the fast lane of the Interstate 80 Freeway. Two more people were killed on the Interstate 15 on May 3, 2015 when a suspected drunken driver traveling in the wrong-way crashed into a family of five in San Diego County. Also, just last year in February 2014, there were six people were killed in a DUI wrong-way crash in Diamond Bar.
These are only a few of the many wrong-way, DUI crashes that happen throughout California, but even one is too many as the aftermath is devastating.
How to Make Roads Safer and Stop Wrong Way Drivers
Wrong-way crashes are a problem throughout the United States, but some states have taken steps to help cut down on these horrific accidents. In Florida, where 17 people died last year in wrong-way crashes, the state has painted enormous blue and red shields on the roadway that leads to freeway exits. They have also added blinking signs to warn drivers not to enter freeways through the exit. The signs are equipped with radar that alerts local highway patrol officers that a wrong-way driver is entering the freeway. The price tag: $50,000 per sign.
Other states have tried to redesign their exits, add do not enter and wrong way signs to discourage entry by wrong-way drivers, add raised pavement markers and paint pavement arrows.
Help for Victims of Wrong Way Crashes
There is help for people who have been hurt in a wrong-way crash. It’s important to get the best care available for a full recovery. What this means is that you don’t cut corners when it comes to getting treatments. You make sure that your settlement includes compensation for future medical costs and treatments to ensure a full recovery. If you have lost a loved one, there is nothing that can replace the love and companionship that you have lost. In this case, it’s important that justice is served in both civil and criminal courts if necessary.
If you have legal questions after an accident, contact Johnson Attorneys Group at 800-235-6801.
For non-legal help after a DUI crash, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) provides assistance to victims and their families who have been injured or lost a loved one in a DUI crash. They are reachable at 877.MADD.HELP (623.3435).
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