It is a nightmare scenario: you are cruising along at 70 mph on I-435 when you suddenly see a car heading directly towards you. The other driver is driving the wrong way on the interstate. A head-on collision with both cars driving at highway speeds is not going to end well for anyone. How could this happen?
The Lowdown on Wrong-Way Crashes
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), this scenario is relatively rare, accounting for only about three percent of highway accidents. When it does happen, however, the results are often catastrophic. Statistics from various state studies show that wrong-way highway crashes are 27 times more likely to be fatal than other highway accidents. On average, 360 lives are lost in 260 fatal wrong-way crashes each year. These are not big numbers, but if your loved one is among those killed, the numbers don’t matter at all.
How Does This Happen?
In a special investigation report published in 2012, the NTSB released key information about what leads to wrong-way crashes on highways. The investigation found that the leading causes of wrong-way driving are:
- Drunk driving. More than half, possibly as many as three-quarters, of wrong-way drivers were driving under the influence of alcohol. Among wrong-way drivers who had been drinking, 59 percent had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .15 percent, well over the legal limit of .08 percent.
- Elderly drivers. Drivers over the age of 70 are over-represented as at-fault drivers in wrong-way collisions. While only three percent of drivers driving the right way in wrong-way crashes were over 70, 15 percent of the wrong-way drivers were over 70.
- Entering the highway in the wrong direction. Most cars end up going the wrong way on the highway by entering the highway on an exit ramp. Making U-turns and using the emergency turnaround are also causes of wrong-way driving.
- Darkness. Nearly 80 percent of fatal wrong-way crashes occur at night, with a disproportionate number of those occurring on the weekend.
Someone Is At Fault
It doesn’t matter how someone ends up driving the wrong way on the highway, if he is there and crashes into someone, he is at fault. Whether he was drunk, confused, lost, or unable to see properly, he or his estate, should be held responsible for his actions. If you are the victim of a wrong-way crash, contact one of our Kansas City-area offices today. We will make sure you get the justice you deserve.