According to an online news report from AAA.com, deadly wrong-way accidents in the United States continue to be a persistent and devastating problem that seems to be getting worse. The latest data provided by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that there have been over 2,000 wrong-way driving deaths between 2015 and 2018. Moreover, the number of wrong-way accident deaths has risen by 34% from 2010 through 2014. Accident researchers discovered that the chances of being a wrong-way driver increases with the age of the driver, alcohol impairment, and driving without passengers.
Wrong-way driving incidents often occur when a driver enters an exit ramp, makes a U-turn on a divided highway, or drives the wrong way down a one-way street. The consequences of wrong-way driving are usually catastrophic, resulting in head-on collisions, serious injuries, and fatalities. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), wrong-way driving crashes are more likely to result in fatalities than other types of motor vehicle accidents. In fact, the NTSB reports that wrong-way collisions are 27 times more likely to result in a fatality than other types of crashes.
According to Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director, wrong-way collisions on highways are usually fatal since these collisions are head-on. He also stated that crash data suggests that these types of fatal accidents are on the rise.
AAA and the National Traffic Safety Board TSB are urging state transportation officials to implement driver-based countermeasures such as sobriety checkpoints, alcohol ignition interlocks, driver refresher classes for seniors, and installing more visible signals and signs. According to statistics, these changes will have a positive effect on reducing wrong-way crashes.
Researchers studied eight elements related to these types of collisions, and there were three elements that stood out – older age, alcohol impairment, and driving alone. Six in ten wrong-way accidents involved a drunk driver. According to the NTSB, alcohol impairment is the single most consequential factor in wrong-way driving collisions. The researchers also believe that drunk driving interventions like ignition interlock devices for past offenders along with high-visibility enforcement reduced these crashes.
The crash data also suggests that drivers over the age of 70 are at a greater risk of driving the wrong-way. AAA’s Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) research project discovered that drivers aged between 75-79 drove less and were over-represented in wrong-way accidents.
Also, the researchers found that having passengers offers some protection against drivers driving in the wrong direction. Having a passenger reduces the chance of being a wrong-way driver by as much as 87%. This is because passengers alert drivers when they make driving mistakes.
To decrease your chances of being a wrong-way driver, it’s essential that you pay attention to street signs and remain focused while driving. If you or your driver realizes that you are heading in the wrong direction, pull over as quickly as possible and turn around safely.
Wrong-way driving is a potentially deadly mistake that should be avoided at all costs. By staying alert and focused while driving, paying attention to signs and road markings, and knowing what to do in the event of encountering a wrong-way driver, we can help to prevent these types of accidents and keep ourselves and others safe on the road.
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