What Is a Wrong Way Crash?
Wrong-way driving accidents cause an average of 300 to 400 deaths every year in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). Although these fatalities make up a small percentage of all accidents, wrong-way crashes tend to be more severe than other collisions.
You might wonder what exactly constitutes a wrong-way crash. Read on for everything you need to know about wrong-way accidents.
If another driver injured you or killed a loved one in a wrong-way crash, you have legal options. Our wrong-way accident lawyers can investigate your accident, let you know your options, and help you build a strong case. To get a FREE consultation, call (469) 998-4069 or contact us online today.
What Is a Wrong-Way Crash?
Wrong-way crashes happen when a motorist is traveling in the opposite direction of traffic on the road. Most wrong-way driving refers to high-speed controlled-access highways and their entrance or exit ramps.
According to facts and statistics on highway safety from the Insurance Information Institute (III), drivers going the wrong way on a one-way road or driving on the wrong side of the road made up 2.4% of fatal accidents involving drivers and motorcycles in 2018.
As you might imagine, wrong-way accidents can be very severe. Most wrong-way crashes cause head-on collisions, which are often fatal. Even at lower speeds, two vehicles traveling towards each other can cause a lot of damage. Although these types of accidents do not often happen, when they do occur, they tend to be deadly.
Why Wrong-Way Crashes Happen
Driver negligence is usually to blame for wrong-way driving. Data has shown these accidents are more likely to involve a driver entering the highway from an exit ramp rather than an entrance ramp.
The most common causes of wrong-way crashes include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Drowsy driving
- Inexperienced drivers
- Lack of signs
- Drivers in crisis
- Unfamiliarity with the road
- Poorly-placed or -marked signs
- Bad ramp design or signs
- Poor visibility
- Factors related to older drivers, such as slower reaction time
Drunk Driving and Wrong-Way Accidents
The leading factor in wrong-way driving accidents is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigations.
The NTSB found that 60% of wrong-way drivers involved in deadly accidents were drinking. About 59% of those drivers also had high blood alcohol content levels at 0.15 or higher. (Keep in mind, that’s almost twice the legal limit.)
Entrance Ramp Design Confusion
Some entrance ramp sign designs can confuse drivers and increase the risk of wrong-way driving. A driver might enter a highway through the wrong ramp without realizing they are traveling in the wrong direction.
If a driver does not realize soon that they entered a ramp the wrong way, they can crash into another driver exiting the ramp in the correct direction. Government entities should be diligent in providing proper signage so that drivers don’t get confused when entering highways. At the same time, drivers have a responsibility to stay alert and follow signage properly.
When Wrong-Way Crashes Happen
Research has shown that most wrong-way crashes happen at night (between midnight and 3 a.m.) or on the weekends. The higher rates during these times correspond with the highest numbers of alcohol consumption and, tragically, drunk driving.
Wrong-way accidents also tend to happen more often in the lanes closest to a median. Wrong-way drivers are more likely to enter the wrong side of the road after crossing the center median.
Common Injuries From Wrong-Way Crashes
Wrong-way accidents often cause very severe and life-threatening injuries. Examples of common injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Chest, back, or rib injuries
- Wrongful death
If a wrong-way driver caused your accident, don’t hesitate to get prompt medical treatment. You might have injuries that are severe or life-threatening, and they might worsen quickly. Call 911 for an ambulance or have someone get you medical attention right away.
Determining Liability in a Wrong-Way Accident
If you or a loved one were injured in a wrong-way accident, you are probably entitled to compensation for your damages. To pursue compensation, you will need to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Before you can file a claim, you’ll need to identify the at-fault party. In some cases, the at-fault party is 100% the driver who was traveling the wrong way. However, there are cases where another party might be partially at fault, such as another driver or a government entity responsible for maintaining road signs.
Proportionate Responsibility in Wrong-Way Accidents
Texas law follows the concept of proportionate responsibility, which allows the person to file a claim to recover damages as long as they were not more than 50% at fault for the accident. These laws will vary depending on the state where your accident happened.
If more than one party was at fault for your wrong-way accident, you might be entitled to compensation from each party. A wrong-way accident lawyer can help you file a claim with each party and understand your recovery options if you were partially at fault. Before assuming any responsibility or blame in the accident, always consult with a lawyer first.
Methods to Help Reduce Wrong-Way Crashes
Even though wrong-way crashes make up a small percentage of total accidents, they still cause too many severe injuries and deaths. Thankfully, many states have implemented new preventative methods for wrong-way driving.
Designs that might help reduce wrong-way accidents include:
- Wrong-way signage or arrows painted on the pavement
- Flashing wrong-way signs
- Wrong-way signs on ramps and roads
- Surveillance technology that recognizes when a driver is going the wrong way
- Spikes or structures that stop wrong-way drivers
- Better lighting in areas where wrong-way accidents tend to happen
- Getting rid of clover leaf sign designs, which tend to be confusing
No matter how confusing a wrong-way situation might be, drivers have a duty to drive safely and carefully. If another driver fails in that duty and injures you, talk to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Talk to a Wrong-Way Accident Lawyer During a Free Consultation Today
Our car accident lawyers fight tirelessly for the rights of accident victims and their families. If a wrong-way driver caused your accident, get the legal help you need — at no risk to you.
We can connect you with the best attorney for your case needs, and we do not collect a fee unless we win you money. To get started with a FREE consultation, call us at (469) 998-4069 or contact us online today.