You may not have ever experienced what it feels like to see a vehicle approaching yours on your side of the road traveling the wrong way, but when it happens it can be frightening. Wrong way crashes are not incredibly common, but when they do occur they can cause serious injuries and death.
In March 2016, four people (including two children) were killed in a car crash on the West Virginia Turnpike after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a truck that was going the wrong way. There were eight people in the Ford Explorer, which was traveling north on I-77 south of Beckley and six miles north of the Ghent toll booth at about 1:30 am when a Dodge Ram truck traveling the wrong way crashed head-on into their vehicle. The driver of the Dodge truck was hospitalized with serious injuries. The four victims were related to each other. The accident is still under investigations with charges likely pending for the driver of the truck that was traveling the wrong way.
Deadly wrong-way traffic crashes
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted a Highway Special Investigation Report on wrong-way driving. They took a look at one of the most dangerous highway collisions which involve vehicles traveling the wrong way on the highway. The report estimates that about 360 lives are lost each year in approximately 260 fatal wrong-way crashes with about 60 percent of those crashes being alcohol-related.
- Wrong-way crashes typically take place on weekends and at night with about 78 percent of wrong-way crashes occurring between 6pm and 6am.
- Drivers over the age of 70 are over-represented as at-fault drivers in wrong-way crashes with this age group comprising about 15 percent of wrong-way drivers in the study.
- The most common entry point of wrong-way drivers is entering a highway via the exit ramp. Other options include making a U-turn or using an emergency turnaround through the median strip.
Given that the majority of wrong-way crashes involve an alcohol-impaired driver, the NTSB report recommends Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices as a way of deterring habitual drunk drivers from gaining access to their vehicle when they have had more than the legal limit of alcohol.
Wrong way drivers represent a major hazard. When you are traveling along the highway at night, it is vital to remain alert to the other cars around you traveling in the same direction, and making sure that you keep your eyes and attention on the road so that you can avoid wrong-way drivers. Those who have suffered serious injuries in a car crash may want to speak to a West Virginia auto accident attorney to discuss their case. If you have lost a loved one in a car crash caused by the negligence of another driver, you may also have options for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
For nearly 40 years, Barry J. Nace has worked to protect the rights of victims of medical malpractice and other personal injuries. Throughout his career, he has proven that multimillion-dollar awards are not a matter of luck, but the result of experience, hard work, outstanding trial skills, and an unquestioned dedication to justice. To date, Mr. Nace has produced dozens of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million with three in excess of $30 million. Read more about Barry J. Nace.