Study Examines Wrong-Way Crashes in Sacramento

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July 16, 2020
Edward Smith

Caltrans and UC Davis Examine Wrong-Way Crashes

Wrong-way crashes, according to the Federal Highway Administration, cause approximately 360 roadway deaths annually. Even though this type of accident accounts for a small number of traffic crashes, they are often fatal. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that the fatality rate is roughly 27 percent higher than that of other accident types. The majority of wrong-way crashes are head-on collisions that end in serious injury or death. 

Because of the severity of wrong-way crashes, Caltrans and UC Davis entered into a three-year research study. The research sought to provide pertinent information and determine ways to prevent accidents from happening. The results, according to Professor Bahram Ravani, who serves as the co-director of the Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology Research Center (AHMCT), save lives. 

Details of the Study

The research began after 10 wrong-way crashes occurred in Sacramento and San Diego in 2015. The three-year program analyzed driver behaviors prior to, during, and after wrong-way crashes. In order to do this, the AHMCT researchers used modems, cameras, and analytical software. The center, which is part of the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, came up with the following:

  • Confusion is a significant factor in wrong-way crashes. The study found that when it comes to this type of accident, the level of confusion exceeded that seen in drunk driving.
  • Streets that permitted only one-way passage accounted for 35 percent of such incidents.
  • Over 50 percent of wrong-way crashes occurred from midnight to 6:00 in the morning hours.
  • Driver confusion was heightened when signage was absent or covered by foliage. 

Caltrans Response

Since the study, Caltrans has implemented various measures to prevent wrong-way crashes as well as adding signage in certain areas. Because of this, the incidence of such crashes decreased by 53 percent. Some of the measures they used are:

  • Installation of signs warning the driver that he or she was heading in the wrong direction was added.
  • Reflective pavement markers showing whether or not a driver was moving in the correct direction were installed. Yellow or white markers indicate the driver’s direction is correct. Red markers are used to indicate a wrong-way path. Because of the success of this method, Caltrans is actively installing the reflectors. 
  • LED signs with flashing lights are placed to tell drivers they are entering in the wrong direction. 
  • Placement of ramp LED lights are activated by a wrong-way driver who enters a ramp heading in the wrong direction.  This system uses radar to detect wrong-way drivers and immediately alerts the CHP and Caltrans. 
  • Videos are used to determine driver behavior before and during a wrong-way accident.

Investigating a Wrong-Way Crash

At our law firm, we know that a successful case rests on detailed evidence. That is why our investigators are dispatched immediately to the accident site. There, they use accident reconstruction techniques to determine liability and vehicle placement before, during, and after the crash. They speak with witnesses and review camera footage of the wrong-way accident. 

Our investigators also examine signage. If signage is lacking or if it is obscured by overhanging branches, this can be used to file a claim against the government agency in charge. Police reports are also reviewed to check for accuracy. At the end of the investigation, data is provided to our legal team, who use it in their preparation of a strong case for our client.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. Wrong-way collisions can result in some of the most devastating injuries. If a wrong-way driver injured you, I have free and friendly advice to offer. Give me a call at (916) 921-6400 or from long-distance at (800) 404-5400. If you prefer, you can reach me by completing the form online.

I’m honored to have helped a high number of Sacramentans in obtaining compensation for their accident injuries since I started my law practice in 1982. Some areas I specialize in are wrongful deaths, all varieties of traffic accidents and traumas such as brain injuries.

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