According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), wrong way accidents account for 300 to 400 fatalities a year on average in the U.S. or about 3% of all traffic-related fatalities. Although this is a small percentage of overall fatalities these accidents tend to be more severe than other types of crashes because they typically involve high speeds and head-on collisions. In fact, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), wrong way driving accidents are 12 times more likely to result in a fatality than other types of accidents. If the accident does not result in a fatality the injuries drivers sustain in wrong way accidents are often extremely severe with long-term residual effects that require surgery, rehabilitation treatment, and future care. Wrong-way accidents occur most often on freeway exit ramps, roadways with construction and at night especially in heavily populated areas, such as metro-Atlanta. Atlanta and its metro areas experience a high number of wrong-way crashes every year, most commonly caused by:
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is the leading cause of wrong-way driving accidents and accounts for as much as sixty percent of accidents a year. The data shows that this is much more prevalent with younger drivers in their twenties and thirties and a large percentage have previously been convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
If you have ever driven in Atlanta or its Metro Areas then you have likely encountered some construction areas. These construction areas often use signs to direct traffic that can be confusing or unclear, especially at night or on unfamiliar roadways.
Mental Health or Medical Emergencies
It’s actually more common than you would think for someone to experience a medical emergency while driving. Everything from heart attacks to seizures can cause a driver to have unpredictable movements and lose control.
Even though Atlanta has done a great job adopting hands-free laws there are still a lot of ways to distract a driver. Anytime a driver becomes distracted and is not giving the road there full attention it can be very dangerous. Distractions make it easy for a driver to miss road or ramp signs often resulting in drivers going the wrong way down a road or highway.
It’s important to always be fully alert and awake when driving a car. Driving tired has been shown to a big cause of wrong-way accidents and is as dangerous as driving intoxicated.
When you first become a licensed driver it’s easy to be overwhelmed with everything you have to pay attention to while driving. When you are a new driver its easier to become distracted or misread signs and you are slower to react if an emergency situation like driving the wrong way arises.
Sometimes the road or ramp signs directing the flow of traffic can’t be seen properly, especially at night or during a storm. It’s important if you are driving on unfamiliar highways or roads to pay close attention for any possible signage.
So the big question is what can a driver do to help them stay safe and avoid wrong way car accidents? It starts with always being alert, focused, and avoiding distractions when driving. Try and scan the road ahead instead of just looking right in front of you. The further ahead you can see, the better prepared you will be to see any approaching hazards. It’s also helpful to drive in the rightmost lane. Most drivers that are driving the wrong way will stay on their right, making an accident more likely in the left lanes. The other reason to stay in the rightmost lane is to avoid drivers that may cross over the center median. The NTSB study found that seven out of every nine wrong way accidents occur in the lane closest to the median.
Regardless of how prepared you were, if you safely passed a wrong way driver, pull off the road and call 911 as soon as possible to report it. If you or a loved one has been injured in a wrong way accident it’s important to contact experienced attorneys as soon as possible. Our attorneys at Kaufman Law can help fight for you to get the compensation you deserve.