Turning Around Wrong-Way Driving

Wrong Way DrivingBy Debbie Hersman

In just the last week, 11 people lost their lives in nine wrong-way collisions that happened in California, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and two in North Carolina. Eight other people were seriously injured.

Wrong-way collisions are among the most lethal types of accidents on our nation’s highways because they are frequently head-on accidents with closing (combined) speeds in excess of 100 mph.

Each year, there are about 250 fatal wrong-way collisions on high-speed divided highways, such as interstates and expressways. These crashes take the lives of nearly 400 people and injure thousands more. Last year, the NTSB initiated a special study to better understand the factors that cause these tragic events.

Tomorrow, investigators will present their findings based on nine wrong-way collisions investigated by the NTSB, a comprehensive review of wrong-way driving research, and an analysis of data from thousands of these types of accidents that have occurred around the country.

With this information, we’ll be able to consider safety recommendations that, if implemented, could prevent many future such accidents. And, that’s the start of turning around this particularly dangerous hazard on America’s roadways.

One thought on “Turning Around Wrong-Way Driving”

  1. I think that the most lethal thing about wrong way driving on divided roads is that it happens so quickly, and it is so unexpected, that it takes a moment for one’s brain to process the oncoming vehicle. Avoiding a wrong way collision is really a luck of the draw.

    Two years ago, I was driving from the west side of Cleveland to the east side via Route 2, just moments after the Superbowl ended. I was in the far right lane, on the bridge that passes through downtown. The bridge is divided by a concrete wall, and has three lanes on each side. It curves one way, then the other. Consequently, the sight lines are very limited. As I rounded a curve, I saw headlights coming at me (the freeway was otherwise deserted). My brain literally froze- it took me a moment to process what I was seeing. Thankfully, the oncoming vehicle was in the fast lane. By the time I realized what I had seen, it had passed me (It was traveling at a high rate of speed, and the speed limit is 50 MPH). I cannot explain the panic I felt. I dialed 911 as soon as it was safe to do so, and found out that the wrong way driver had already been reported.

    I never saw any news reports, so the driver must have been apprehended or exited the freeway without incident. I have seen quite a bit, but I have never seen my own mortality flash by so quickly. If I had been in the fast lane, it would have been over.

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