Posted in Accident Data on March 24, 2016
While it is common for drivers in Montana and elsewhere to encounter drivers while traveling on various roads, it is not as common to encounter a driver traveling in the wrong direction. Despite it not being a frequent occurrence on the road, it is an extremely dangerous situation for all travelers near the wrong-way driver. Therefore, it is important to gain a better understanding of how drivers travel in the wrong direction and the hazards this poses.
According to a National Transportation Safety Board investigation report from 2012, roughly 360 lives are lost each year due to a wrong-way collision. In this report, the NTSB analyzed fatal wrong-way accidents occurring from 20014 through 2009. During that time, 1,566 fatal wrong-way crashes occurred, resulting in 2,139 fatalities.
The investigative report found that wrong-way crashes were more likely to result in fatal and serious injuries than any other types of highway accidents. Of those incident analyzed in this report, over 80 percent involved a head-on collision a high speeds.
With regards to the characteristics of a wrong-way collision, it was discovered that roughly 60 percent involved alcohol. It was also found that nine percent of the wrong-way drivers occurring in the timeframe of this report had a previous DUI conviction within the last three years. It was also determined that 15 percent of wrong-way collisions were caused by drivers over 70-years-old.
When determining the cause of wrong-way driving, the primary origin for this was entering an exit ramp. Other actions include making a U-turn on the mainline of the highway or using an emergency turnaround through the median. It was also found that 78 percent of fatal wrong-way crashes occur between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and 57 percent occur on the weekends.
While understanding the facts and causes of wrong-way driving could help reduce wrong-way accidents, this unfortunately will not prevent these fatal collisions from occurring. Those impacted by a wrong-way driver should understand they might have recourses available to them, helping them place liability on the wrong-way driver.
Source: Ntsb.gov, “Special Investigation Report: Wrong-Way Driving,” Dec. 11, 2012