What Causes Wrong-Way Car Accidents?

Any car accident can be a devastating event and lead to serious injuries in Seattle. However, wrong-way accidents can be particularly severe for drivers and passengers. These crashes often occur when one or more vehicles are traveling at high rates of speed. The US Department of Transportation reports that approximately 350 people are killed each year due to wrong-way collisions, and many thousands more are injured. Wrong-way car accidents have a variety of causes.

Characteristics of wrong-way crashes

Using data from various agencies, including the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), we can see that many wrong-way crashes have common characteristics.

  • In one recent study year, the NTSB says that more than half, and maybe as many as three quarters, of wrong-way drivers were impaired by alcohol. The NTSB says that approximately 59% of those wrong-way drivers had a blood alcohol content at or above .15%, which is considered a high BAC.
  • Drivers over the age of 70 are over-represented as the at-fault drivers in wrong-way crashes.
  • The primary origin of all wrong-way movements is drivers entering an exit ramp. Other common causes include making a U-turn or using an emergency turn around through a median.
  • Most wrong-way collisions occur at night. The NTSB reported that 78% of fatal wrong-way collisions in a recent year happened between the hours of 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM. They say that a disproportionate number of wrong-way collisions occurred on the weekends.
  • The NTSB reported that most wrong-way collisions occur in the lane closest to the median.

What type of injuries are common for wrong-way crashes?

Based on the available data, the NTSB concluded that wrong-way collisions tend to be severe incidents resulting in fatalities. For those who survive wrong-way collisions, the injuries are frequently serious. It is not uncommon to see the following injuries as a result of a wrong-way crash:

Each of these injuries requires immediate medical care. Wrong-way crash victims often require extensive recovery periods. Victims may not be able to work while they recover, which can lead to them losing the income they need to support themselves and their families.

Preventing wrong-way collisions

It is important that you do what you can to prevent wrong-way collisions. Every driver should be responsible on the roadways and take steps to avoid traveling down the wrong side of the roadway. Do not operate your vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol and pay very close attention to traffic signs in order to ensure you are traveling the right way.

During the latest reporting year in the state, the Washington Department of Transportation says that there were 105,894 total car crashes reported. These incidents killed hundreds of people and injured thousands more. While we do not have exact data on how many wrong-way crashes killed or injured Washington residents, we do know that they occur on a regular basis in this state.

Because so many wrong-way crashes occur due to impaired drivers, the NTSB recommends anyone who has a DUI conviction be required to install an alcohol ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Preventing drunk driving will be vital to curbing incidences of wrong-way crashes. If you’ve been injured in a serious accident, contact the Seattle car accident attorney at Washington Injury Law today.