Fatality Rate Caused by Wrong Way Drivers Is High
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury and car accident lawyer. From 300 to 400 people die annually due to wrong way drivers. While this might seem like a small number, wrong way drivers constitute around 3 percent of the motor vehicle deaths that occur each year. It is a big problem since the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that the fatality rate caused by wrong way drivers are considerably higher than in other types of car accidents. Learning what causes drivers to go against traffic and how to avoid them can potentially save lives.
One way to explain the seriousness of a wrong-way crash is that they are almost always head-on collisions. When two vehicles crash into each other, both traveling at least 55 mph, it causes catastrophic injuries and fatalities. A study conducted by Caltrans in California of wrong-way drivers in the state concluded that the death rate was 12 times higher in a wrong-way accident than in all other types of car accidents.
Characteristics of Wrong-Way Drivers
Driver error is the cause of 94 percent of motor vehicle accidents but not all of them. Some of the following components are common to the incidence of wrong-way driving, according to the National Transportation Safety Board:
- Drunk driving is the primary cause of wrong-way accidents. Of the drivers involved in wrong way collisions in a study by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 10 percent were legally drunk with a BAC level of 0.08 percent. Fifty-nine percent showed a BAC level of 0.15 percent or higher. Two percent exhibited a BAC level below 0.08 percent, and 29 percent had not been drinking.
- Drivers in specific age ranges were more likely to be involved in a wrong way driving collision than others. Those who were over 80 were most likely to be in a crash with resulting fatalities. However, the highest number of deaths from accidents were in the age 20 to 50 group.
- Most wrong-way driver accidents occur after dark. Seventy-eight percent of wrong-way crashes that resulted in fatalities happened between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The highest number, 31 percent, occurred between midnight and 3:00 a.m.
- Most collisions occur in the number one lane. The number one lane, called the slow lane, is where most wrong way collisions happen. Since the wrong-way driver believes he or she is traveling in the right direction, they tend to drive in what is assumed to be the slow lane. However, traffic coming toward the wrong-way driver is actually coming toward them in the fast lane.
- Wrong-way drivers commonly enter exit ramps. However, they may also make a U-turn on the road or cut across the median strip at the emergency turnaround.
- Most wrong-way accidents happen over the weekend and cause serious injuries. This is because people are out drinking on Friday and Saturday night.
Avoiding Wrong-Way Drivers
Some of the following tips may be useful to protect yourself from a wrong-way driver:
- Stay especially alert when driving at night.
- Scan ahead to look for headlights coming in your direction when you are on a one-way stretch of road.
- If you happen to see a wrong-way driver headed toward you, pull off to the shoulder and phone the police to alert them.
- Stay to the right, and don’t drive in the fast lane. Among different types of accidents, this is the lane most wrong-way drivers are on.
- Make sure to wear your seatbelt. If you do happen to be in a collision, the use of your belt offers a much better chance at surviving the crash.
Sacramento Personal Injury and Car Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury and car accident lawyer. Accidents are a fact of life. However, being injured in a motor vehicle accident that is someone else’s fault compounds the distress. If this has happened to you or your loved one, call me at (916) 921-6400 or at (800) 404-5400 for friendly and free advice.
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Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/en/wrong-way-sign-road-caution-167535/
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