Head-on collisions are undoubtedly one of the most dangerous situations drivers can find themselves in. In wrong-way accidents, nearly all collisions occur head-on at high speeds. With limited time to react to the situation, drivers may not be able to avoid crashes. This leads to hundreds of fatalities every year. Almost exactly one year ago, two people were killed in a head-on collision on Route 50 in Queen Anne’s County. The driver was under the influence of alcohol and traveling the wrong way on the highway.
In another incident, five people were killed in a deadly Ohio crash in February after a man drove the wrong way on I-75 while intoxicated after being arrested for a DUI and crashing into parked cars two days before. Similarly, a young Chicago man was sentenced to eight years in prison in February for driving under the influence on Lake Shore Drive, killing a young woman and severely injuring another. Thankfully we do not see stories like this every day. But the sad reality is that almost every wrong-way collision results in at least one fatality. Over 260 wrong-way crashes occur every year, killing an average of 350 people.
Severity of Collisions
Wrong-way collisions are such a growing problem that the National Transportation Safety Board released a Highway Special Investigation Report. The purpose of this report is to analyze the incidence rate, causes, and possible solutions. Relatively infrequent, only three percent of highway accidents are determined wrong-way collisions. Despite this, they are a serious concern, and are often fatal than any other type of car accident. Accidents caused by wrong-way drivers are estimated to have a fatality rate of 22-27 percent higher than other accidents. All other traffic accidents have a fatality rate of only 0.3 percent.
Driving Under the Influence a Major Factor
Every accident has a variety of causes. The NTSB investigation found that driving while intoxicated is heavily associated with wrong-way collisions. At least 60 percent of wrong way drivers had alcohol in their systems. Because of under reported events, this number may be even closer to 75 percent. Of wrong-way drivers who were under the influence of alcohol, ten percent had BACs between .08 and .15, and 59 percent had a BAC at or above .15, over twice the typical legal limit of 0.08.
A significant number of wrong-way drivers were repeat DUI offenders: nine percent had been convicted of driving under the influence within the three years prior to the collision. Timelines associated with these crashes correspond closely to times of the day that most people are likely to be drinking alcohol, with 78 percent of wrong-way collisions occurring between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and 31 percent occurring between midnight and 3:00. More than half of the accidents caused by wrong-way drivers occur on the weekend.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a wrong-way collision due to impaired driving, getting legal help is the most important thing you can do. The DUI and car accident attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC have over 30 years of experience handling DUI and DWI cases in Maryland, and they can help you too. Call or contact us online for a free consultation today.