Wrong Way Accidents on Freeways Claim Lives
Recent wrong way collisions on freeways in the Sacramento area have had catastrophic consequences. Specifically, in May of this year, the driver of a pickup truck was traveling eastbound in the fast lane of westbound I-80 when he struck and the occupants of a Lexus as well as himself. Also, a month earlier in April, a 19-year-old traveling the wrong way on a freeway crashed into a pickup truck carrying three men, resulting in her death. She had a blood alcohol level of .20 percent, over twice the legal limit. In another alcohol-related wrong way collision earlier this year, the driver of a sedan drunkenly sped onto a freeway the wrong way and crashed into a car carrying three teenagers, killing all of them.
In fact, by May of 2015, there were four wrong way accidents on freeways in the Sacramento area that claimed the lives of fourteen people. Although wrong way collisions are not new, state highway officials are concerned about the increased frequency of the accidents and the high number of lives lost. Officials want to determine if this recent spate of devastating crashes is a cluster, or if it indicates a growing trend. Historically, statistics show that from 2011-2014, 49 wrong way collisions occurred resulting in 69 lives lost. During that same time period, there were 237 injury-only wrong way crashes which resulted in 346 people being injured. The fact that four wrong way collisions have claimed the lives of 14 people in a little over four months of 2015 is an alarming increase, and one that warrants further investigation.
The Causes of Wrong Way Collisions
In a National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) investigation into wrong way collisions, driving under the influence was found to be the leading cause of these devastating accidents. Of the four recent wrong way collisions in the Sacramento area this year, two of them involved alcohol. In addition to existing laws against drunk driving, the NTSB recommendations include funding the development of new in-vehicle alcohol detection technologies based on touch and breath to estimate a driver’s blood alcohol level. These technologies are being developed by auto manufacturers and hold a lot of promise for stopping driving under the influence of alcohol.
Another cause of wrong way collisions is driver confusion. Wrong way drivers enter exit ramps, and usually travel the wrong way in the fast lane, making the resulting crash all the more horrific. Older drivers account for 15% of wrong way drivers in collisions; the NTSB report recommends driver licensing and medical review for at-risk drivers, and roadway design older driver safety.
Roadway Design & Wrong Way Collisions
The safety of roadway design is a huge issue with respect to wrong way collisions. The exit ramps most often used by wrong way drivers to access freeways are marked with wrong way signs and lined with red road reflectors. However, these safety measures clearly are not always enough. State Representative Rodriguez (D-Pomona) has authored a bill, AB 162, which requests that the California Department of Transportation study wrong way crashes and compare safety measures and roadway designs in other states with those in California. Specifically, the bill, if signed into law, will help to determine if California can improve safety and decrease the number of wrong way collisions on its freeways.
Contact a Skilled Sacramento Auto Accident Lawyer Now!
If you or a loved one has been injured in a wrong way collision, you may be entitled to money damages. If the life of a loved one was claimed by a wrong way accident, then your loss is immeasurable. In both cases, you need the expertise of a Sacramento Auto Accident attorney with decades of experience in fighting for your rights and the compensation you deserve.
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Auto Accident Attorney with the primary accident information site on the web, www.AutoAccident.com. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in an accident caused by the negligence of another, call me now at (916) 921-6400. If you are outside the Sacramento area, you can call at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.