The Federal Highway Administration estimates that wrong-way accidents can cause between 300 and 400 fatalities each year.
The issue is defined as a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction of travel on a freeway or highway, and colliding with another vehicle going in the right direction.
How These Accidents Happen
There are many things that could go wrong on the road, but driving in the wrong direction of a lane seems like a thing of fiction. Though not very common, wrong way car accidents can happen and account for about 3% of total motor vehicle accidents. However, when they do happen, they are more likely to cause fatalities than other types of road accidents.
Most of the time, wrong way driving is a result of driver error, particularly when a driver wants to enter a highway exit ramp. Driver error is an extremely complex issue, that can be defined by a variety of different matters:
- The driver’s unfamiliarity if the roadway in a particular area;
- Distracted driving;
- Driver fatigue;
- Driver mental state or health;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Other possible causes may not much to do with the driver:
- Poorly marked ramps or lack of signs;
- Bad ramp design;
- Weather conditions that affect visibility
How to Stay Safe
It’s vital to pay close attention in front of you, not just one or two cars ahead. Ideally, you should have a clear (or, at least, somewhat clear) view of your current way. The further you can see the roadway, the more prepared you can be if you see a wrong-way vehicle approaching.
If you can, try to drive only on the right lane, as that may increase your chances of avoiding a wrong-way driver. If you see a driver approaching you, switch to the right lane as soon as you can.
Of course, sometimes you don’t have the option of switching lanes. According to the FHA, most wrong-way collisions take place head-on, which is why they result in fatalities so often. If you don’t have enough room to switch lanes, you should turn your vehicle to the side, which could potentially minimize the severity of the impact.
Though these tips could really make a difference when faced with a wrong-way driver, they cannot completely prevent such accidents from happening. And when they do, what are your options?
Speak With an Experienced St. Louis Lawyer
A lawyer can help you understand what you need to do, and who is liable. Give us a call, day or night, at (314) 361-4242 for a FREE consultation.