What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrong-Way Accidents?

What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrong-Way Accidents?

Wrong-way accidents occur when a driver goes in the opposite direction of the traffic flow and collides with a vehicle that’s going in the proper direction. Drivers can go the wrong way either intentionally or unintentionally. In any case, these accidents are more likely to be fatal than other crashes because they often involve either a head-on impact or an opposite-direction sideswipe. According to the Federal Highway Administration, between 300 and 400 people die as a result of wrong-way crashes every year. When victims survive, they often suffer serious injuries, and many turn to a Beaumont auto accident attorney for representation.

As a driver, it’s important that you know how wrong-way accidents occur and what you can do to avoid becoming involved in one. Many of the injuries victims suffer have long-lasting consequences. Common injuries include spinal cord damage, whiplash, head trauma, and broken bones. Therefore, victims often face high medical bills and long recovery periods. If you were injured because of the actions of a wrong-way driver, you are entitled to compensation for all your losses. Let’s look at some of the most common contributors to wrong-way accidents.

Why Wrong-Way Driving Accidents Occur

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, there are three main causes of wrong-way accidents. These are:

  • Impairment due to alcohol or drug use including prescription medications
  • Confusion or disorientation on the part of the driver
  • Signage errors, control devices, and highway design

The NTSB found that 60 percent of wrong-way drivers showed some signs of alcohol or drug impairment. This contrasts with other accidents in which only seven percent of drivers were found to be under the influence. The board also reported that almost 80 percent of these wrecks took place during the night and nearly 60 percent happened during the weekend.  That’s when you’re most likely to find intoxicated drivers on the road.

Meanwhile, confusion and disorientation are of concern among older drivers. While most wrong-way drivers are young, the statistics also show that elderly or senior motorists play a role in these crashes. While drivers over 70 only accounts for about three percent of regular accidents, they are involved in almost 15 percent of wrong-way collisions.

Not all causes of wrong-way accidents are driver-related. Problems with pavement striping, signage, and road design can also cause drivers to go in the opposite direction. In the absence of a prominent “wrong way” or “one-way” signs, you can imagine how easy it would be to make a mistake, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area.  If exit and entrance ramps are not designed to look distinctly different, drivers can also get confused.

How to Avoid Wrong-Way Accidents in Beaumont

You need to try as hard as possible to avoid colliding with a wrong-way driver. While you need to focus on the cars directly in front of you, you also need to look past them and pay attention to the wider roadway. If you look further ahead, you’ll be able to prepare to respond to oncoming hazards. Every second counts if a wrong-way driver is coming towards you. If you don’t look ahead or you can’t see what’s happening, you won’t have time to maneuver out of the way.

You should also try to:

  • Drive in the right lane wherever possible. Wrong-way drivers tend to drive in the left lane closest to the median so you should do what you can to stay out of their way.
  • Exercise greater caution when driving at night and on the weekend. As noted earlier, this is when most wrong-way collisions occur due to driver impairment.
  • Avoid getting distracted. If a wrong-way driver suddenly appears, you’ll be better able to respond if you are focused on the road and both your hands are on the steering wheel. If you are texting, eating, or otherwise distracted, you’ll be less able to get out of the way.

If you are able to avoid a wrong-way driver, you should pull over to the side of the road as soon as you can and call 911. This can prevent the driver from going on to hurt someone else. Of course, you won’t always be able to avoid these crashes since they often occur at high speeds. If you get hurt, you need to reach out to an attorney.

Get Help from Brumback & Langley Following Your Crash

Drivers who injure others when they go the wrong way should be held accountable. Let our Beaumont car accident attorneys help you to get fair compensation. Call us and set up a free consultation and benefit from our knowledge and experience.


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