Although they are not the most common type of auto accident, wrong-way car crashes still create a serious public safety hazard. When a driver travels in the opposite direction on a freeway on-ramp or other one-way road, the risk of a head-on collision vehicle increases significantly. And if there is a crash, the occupants of both vehicles are far more likely to sustain serious, life-threatening injuries than in other kinds of accidents.
Drunk Driving a Major Factor in Wrong-Way Accidents
Just recently, Houston police arrested a wrong-way driver after what news reports described as “several near-misses with other drivers” on I-45. Fortunately, the driver did not get into an accident or harm anyone. On the other hand, just a few days earlier the police arrested another wrong-way driver who managed to collide with at least two vehicles.
The wrong-way drivers in both of the I-45 cases are women in their 20s. Police attributed the women’s actions to the use of alcohol and drugs. Both drivers are now charged with DWI, and the latter is also accused of intoxication assault.
In fact, according to a comprehensive study performed by the Illinois Center for Transportation, driving “under the influence of alcohol” is the largest contributing factor in fatal wrong-way crashes. The next most-cited contributing factor was insufficient road lighting at night.
Another survey conducted by Texas A&M University (TAMU) indicated wrong-way crashes were more likely to occur during overnight and early-morning hours than other kinds of motor vehicle accidents. Specifically, wrong-way crashes were most likely to occur between 2 a.m. and 3.a.m, the time period that “corresponds to closing time of most Texas bars.” Indeed, the TAMU researchers found that approximately 61 percent of drivers who caused wrong-way crashes “had some influence of alcohol and/or drugs by the investigating officer.”
And notwithstanding the two recent I-45 cases involving female drivers, the TAMU survey found that men “accounted for slightly over two-thirds of the wrong-way drivers.” As for the impact of wrong-way crashes, the data gathered by TAMU found that about half of such accidents “resulted in an incapacitating injury or fatality.” This casualty rate was “significantly higher” than the Texas statewide average for other categories of accidents.
Injured in a Wrong-Way Accident? We Can Help
In recent years, government officials in Austin and throughout Texas have redoubled their efforts to reduce the incidences of wrong-way crashes. According to a 2016 report from KXAN-TV, for instance, the Texas Department of Transportation has installed sensors that detect wrong-way drivers and alert other drivers on the road via existing electronic highway warning signs.
Ultimately, it is the wrong-way drivers who need to be held responsible for their own actions. If you have been injured by a negligent driver, you should speak with an experienced Austin car accident lawyer who can review your case and advise you of your legal rights. Call DC Law at 512-220-1800 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.