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Wrong-Way Crashes Are Increasing. Here’s Why.

This content has been reviewed by Jason D. Stone

Since 2014, the number of deaths each year from wrong-way crashes is up 34% to just over 500 annually. In Massachusetts, deadly wrong-way collisions have increased 78% from 19 annually to 27. These collisions are particularly dangerous since they often occur head-on at high speeds.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently looked at wrong-way crashes and discovered three main causes.

Alcohol Impairment

Driving while intoxicated is the leading cause of wrong-way car accidents. Over 60% of wrong-way collisions involved an intoxicated driver.

Alcohol consumption is on the rise in the U.S. Traditionally, excessive drinking has been associated with men, but heavy drinking has increased by 41% in women between 2019 and 2020. Both men and women are drinking more often as well, with a 19% increase in the number of days a week individuals drank alcohol.

While not everyone who drinks will get behind the wheel intoxicated, the trend for increased alcohol consumption is concerning when thinking about wrong-way crashes. With more people drinking more during more days of the week, we could see an increase in the number of wrong-way accidents over the next few years.

Anyone who causes a wrong-way crash while under the influence of alcohol should be held responsible for their negligent actions. Victims should discuss their case with experienced Boston car accident lawyers.

Old Age

According to the most recent crash data, older age was a risk factor for wrong-way crashes. Drivers over the age of 70 were frequently behind the wheel during fatal wrong-way crashes.

By 2040, there will be over 80 million Americans aged 65 and older. While most Americans will still be younger than 65, the aging population will make up a more significant portion of drivers soon.

As they age, adults tend to drive less. They can suffer from age-related vision and hearing changes that make driving more challenging. Yet, most states do not have any policies in place to test older Americans for driving fitness. This puts them at risk of getting into dangerous situations with their vehicles and causing wrong-way car crashes.

It can be difficult to take away a loved one’s ability to drive. However, caregivers and doctors have a responsibility to older adults and the general population to assess them for driving fitness.

Solo Drivers

Wrong-way crashes happen most often when drivers are alone. Nearly 87% of fatal wrong-way collisions were caused by a solo driver.

With no one in the car to help navigate, solo drivers can make fatal mistakes and enter the highway going the wrong direction. States have the responsibility to put up signage and other warning systems to make it easier for drivers to recognize their mistake and correct it before an accident occurs.

Fatigue can be just as dangerous as alcohol. When solo drivers fail to take a rest break, their ability to make decisions is impaired. They increase their risk of falling asleep at the wheel or entering a highway going in the wrong direction. These drivers should be encouraged to take a break when needed to avoid causing a wrong-way crash.

Prevent Wrong-Way Crashes

Wrong-way collisions can be prevented. Given the data on the top three causes of a wrong-way crash, local and state lawmakers can implement changes to make our roads safer. Here are the current suggestions to reduce wrong-way accidents:

  • Alcohol Ignition Interlocks: these devices prevent someone who is over the legal limit from starting a vehicle.
  • Highway Alert Systems: these radar devices notice when a vehicle is headed the wrong way on an onramp and activate flashing warning lights. This helps the driver correct the mistake before reaching the highway.
  • Older Driver Screenings: introducing rules into the state legislature that would require the screening of older adults to identify medically at-risk drivers.

Need Help? Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers

When you or a loved one has been injured in a wrong-way crash, you’re already facing a challenging time. You need to focus on recovering, not worrying about how to pay your medical bills.

The experienced attorneys at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers will listen to your case with an empathetic ear. You’ll receive support and guidance throughout your case. Our team will advocate for you in court to make sure you receive the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation.

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