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What causes wrong-way driving?

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2023 | Car Accidents |

Although a flagrant driving error, traveling against the flow of traffic on a major highway, interstate, or other road is surprisingly common both in western Washington and throughout the country.

This is of course highly dangerous behavior, as it increases the odds of a head-on collision at high speeds.  Head-on collisions too often end with innocent motorists dying or suffering catastrophic injuries.

A relatively recent study by the American Automobile Association, or AAA, and the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, determined that on average, 500 people died each year because of wrong-way driving during the latter part of last decade.

The organizations noted that during the 2010s, the average number of wrong-way deaths spiked by over 33%.

The study blamed the spike mainly on drunk driving. Among approximately 3,000 motorists who operated a vehicle against the flow of traffic, well over half were legally drunk.

The study also revealed that a clear majority of wrong-way drivers were traveling alone at the time of the incident.

The AAA and NTSB also noted that drivers over 70 were more prone to wrong-way crashes.

The organizations made several recommendations for solving the problem.

They recommended motorists consider traveling with a passenger who can spot, and point out, that a driver is traveling against traffic. This is especially important when a driver is traveling at night, in bad weather or on unfamiliar roads.

The organizations thought better traffic design, including more signs, could also help.

However, the single best thing a driver in the Seattle area can do to avoid wrong-way crashes is to drive sober.

Victims of wrong-way crashes and their families can hold drivers accountable

Usually, wrong-way accidents happen because a driver made a serious mistake. In most of these cases, the mistake is entirely preventable. For example, anyone who gets on the road these days should know that drunk driving is both dangerous and illegal.

Victims of wrong-way drivers in Washington, including surviving families, have legal options for holding those who cause wrong-way crashes accountable.