Sometimes, motorists make mistakes and drive a block or two going the wrong direction on a one-way street, and it is exceedingly dangerous. Consider those drivers who steer headlong into traffic while traveling in the wrong direction. These wrong-way drivers cause serious – often deadly – accidents, and they are out there.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) defines a wrong-way driving (WWD) crash as an accident in which a vehicle that is traveling against the legal flow of traffic on a divided highway or access ramp collides with a vehicle that is traveling according to the legal traffic flow. The associated statistics are significant:
- On average, 300 to 400 people are killed in WWD accidents every year.
- WWD accidents account for about 1 percent of total traffic fatalities each year.
- The circumstances of WWD accidents makes them more severe – relative to other types of traffic accidents.
Encountering a Wrong-Way Driver
When you are driving at highway speeds, the last thing you expect is to encounter a vehicle coming toward you in your lane. The terror associated with such an event is difficult to overstate. Further, you are likely to have nothing but bad options in such a situation – swerving out of the way (if you have time) may be your only hope of avoiding a violent head-on collision, but suddenly swerving suddenly is also extremely dangerous.
Wrong-Way Accidents: How They Happen
Drivers who travel in the wrong direction at highway speeds endanger not only themselves but also everyone with whom they share the roadway. Sometimes drivers make this dangerous driving error because they are impaired or are sleep deprived. Other WWD accidents can be caused by bad weather that makes it hard for drivers to get a clear view of the roadway. Inexperienced drivers are also more prone to wrong-way driving. Sometimes, drivers travel long distances without recognizing their error, which exacerbates the already exceedingly dangerous situation.
Proper Signage Helps
Signage that clearly and unambiguously indicates where motorists should enter a roadway and where they should not can make a tremendous difference in the number of WWD accidents on our highways. There are also detection and warning systems that can be implemented in areas that are especially vulnerable to these often-deadly accidents. Further, traveling in the right-most lane (which is typically the safest place to be if you are not passing or moving over) can lessen your risk of being in a WWD accident because most wrong-way drivers assume they are traveling in the appropriate lane (their right lane on what they presume to be a two-lane highway).