cars on the road

Wrong-way Crashes are on the Rise

By Greg Kohn

An alarming trend on our highways is that wrong-way crashes are on the rise. Looking at the characteristics of wrong-way drivers provides some clues as to the causes.

Wrong-way crashes have a high fatality rate because they often involve head-on collisions. A New Jersey car accident attorney can help you go after compensation from the at-fault driver if you got injured or you lost a loved one because of a wrong-way crash. 

Factors That Increase the Odds of Being a Wrong-Way Driver

AAA says that these three factors increase a person’s likelihood of being a wrong-way driver:

  • Alcohol impairment is the number one factor in wrong-way crashes. Sixty percent of all wrong-way crashes in the United States involve a driver who is alcohol-impaired.
  • Almost 87 percent of wrong-way crashes in America involve people who were driving alone. Without a passenger in the car, a driver could be more likely to fall asleep at the wheel or become inattentive.
  • Drivers aged 70 and above are involved in a high number of these collisions. Even though younger drivers travel far more miles and spend much more time on the road, older drivers have a higher tendency to be in wrong-way crashes.

Knowing the primary causes of wrong-way collisions is only half of the picture. We need to know how to get these collisions to trend downward and become less frequent.

Ways to Reduce the Risk of Being a Wrong-Way Driver

Some of the measures that could address the three most common causes of wrong-way crashes involve action on the part of policymakers. For example:

  • To keep alcohol-impaired drivers off the road, mandatory alcohol ignition interlock devices for DUI offenders could be effective. 
  • High-visibility enforcement to crack down on alcohol-impaired drivers could reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. This measure could catch alcohol-impaired drivers who do not have a DUI conviction.
  • Highway signage, road signals, and lane markings vary widely across the country. If Congress created national standards that must be followed on all highways and streets, older drivers might be able to see them better and have less likelihood of confusion about the correct direction in which to drive.
  • Medical emergencies like strokes or heart attacks account for a significant number of wrong-way crashes. State laws could change to help identify drivers who have medical conditions that put them at risk of a crisis when driving.

Also, the individual motorist can take steps to avoid being a wrong-way driver. Common sense measures include:

  • Do not drive while drowsy. If you are already on the road when you become fatigued, pull off of the road and get some rest. A fatigued driver has slowed reaction time and impaired judgment. A drowsy driver can perform as poorly at driving skills as a drunk driver.
  • Stay off of the road if you consume alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medications that can impair your ability to drive safely.

A New Jersey personal injury attorney can talk to you and evaluate whether you might have a personal injury or wrongful death claim due to a wrong-way crash. For legal help, get in touch with our office today, we offer a free consultation.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.