Texas leads the nation in wrong-way crashes, which are one of the most serious collisions a person can experience. Sadly, they are also frighteningly common in the US. From 2004-2009, 2,139 fatal wrong-way crashes were reported.
Wrong-Way Crashes and What Causes Them
Wrong-way crashes are collisions involving cars traveling the wrong way on any road. They are especially common on highways and access ramps. Accidents in these areas are dangerous in general, but when a vehicle travels over 70 mph in the incorrect direction, a lot can go wrong. There are a few basic causes behind these horrific collisions. The common factors that lead to wrong-way collisions include:
- Drinking and driving. Driving while intoxicated is a major contributing factor to these incidents. In fact, drivers with a BAC over 0.15 committed approximately 59% of wrong-way incidents. Only 29% of wrong-way drivers had no alcohol in their systems.
- Drug issues. OTC, prescription, and illegal drug use also affect a person’s ability to notice “do not enter” signs and other cautions. When combined with issues like low visibility or night driving, this is especially dangerous.
In some cases, drivers may simply not be able to make out which direction they are supposed to travel, innocently turning down a one-way street or entering an exit ramp and colliding with another vehicle. This is perhaps common in Texas due to the state’s extensive use of access roads and unique U-turns.
Solutions to Wrong-Way Crashes in Texas
Because of the serious nature of these incidents, state and federal governments as well as private organizations are hard at work to uncover the most effective ways to keep drivers safe. Countermeasures that may help curb this behavior and prevent drivers from heading the wrong way include:
- New or modified regulations to mitigate impaired driving. More specifically, organizations are looking at the effect of age on driving as well as prescription drug activity that may lead to confusion on the road.
- More clearly highlighting entrance and exit ramps. This may seem straightforward, but governing bodies are always researching human response and recognition, putting their discoveries to work on our roadways to ensure drivers are as alert and aware of roadway laws as possible. For example, a San Antonio initiative is exploring the effectiveness of sensors that detect and warn a wrong-way driver. Similar programs are also being explored in Dallas and Fort Worth.
- Data collection. To get a better understanding of why these collisions happen, we need to take a closer look at their causes. This means more advanced monitoring systems and more effective intervention programs to keep these accidents from happening. In turn, we can develop more effective roadway channelization, better signage, and clearer markings.
- In-vehicle interventions. Could vehicles prevent wrong-way collisions? Technology is being developed that projects warnings on the windshield or through a GPS system, sternly alerting the driver that he or she needs to pull over and turn around.
In addition to these measures, many states are looking at technologies that detect when a wrong-way driver enters the highway. Whenever these systems go off or a person calls to report this dangerous activity, the same signs that warn us of lane closures or delays can advise drivers to proceed with caution.
Legal Action Against Wrong-Way Drivers
Unfortunately, these interventions and innovations are not where we need them to be. Wrong-way collisions still happen at an alarming rate, and they almost always involve gross driver negligence. When these actions lead to a collision that takes a life, the victim’s family may seek legal action against the responsible party.
If you were involved in a wrong-way collision and are concerned about your legal options in Texas, contact the experts at Joe Lopez Law.