Each day, most of us travel along highways, city roads, and suburban streets with the understanding that other drivers will follow basic traffic rules. One of the simplest rules? To always drive in the correct lane, never placing yourself in a position where you are heading toward oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, not every driver follows this basic law.
When alcohol is involved, if the driver is fatigued, or if he is distracted in some way, the chances of him crossing over the median into oncoming traffic are significantly higher. When this occurs, it can spell disaster for that driver and everyone else on the road.
The Numbers Are Alarming
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks data through the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), to give a comprehensive perspective on fatal accidents across the United States. They found that, out of an average of 260 fatal wrong-way collisions each year, approximately 360 people end up losing their lives, all because of someone’s careless and destructive mistake.
In many wrong-way accidents, alcohol seems to be a common factor: 60% of fatal wrong-way collisions involved alcohol impairment on the part of the driver. By a wide margin, the drivers who are traveling towards oncoming traffic are the ones who seem to be impaired, because only 6.5% of the “right-way” drivers who were involved in fatal wrong-way accidents were found to be impaired by alcohol.
As it is with similar tragedies, wrong-way accidents don’t discriminate when it comes to victims. The drivers who are forced to swerve out of the path of an oncoming vehicle must do so to protect themselves and any other occupants in the car. Unfortunately, because these accidents often occur at high speeds, it can be difficult to avoid the oncoming vehicle in time. Just last month in Fort Worth along Jacksboro Highway, a single father became the victim of a head-on collision while he was on his way to work. Luckily, all the occupants of his vehicle were able to survive the collision. The wrong-way driver, however, wasn’t so fortunate.
In Prunedale, CA, three people were tragically killed when their car was struck by a wrong-way driver. The woman who was arrested for the collision had been driving along San Miguel Canyon Road, an area that isn’t known for many accidents. She was charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter, as well as driving under the influence.
Causes of Wrong-Way Accidents
Even if you are a safe driver and follow every single traffic rule, you could still be involved in a wrong-way accident. One of the first steps you should take to protect yourself from this dangerous situation is to understand some of the common contributing factors to wrong-way driving. These include:
- Driving Under the Influence: While alcohol is the most common substance associated with intoxicated driving, driving can still be impaired if someone is under the influence of illegal drugs, or even prescription medication. Any substance that affects your attention and reaction time should be dealt with cautiously, especially if you’re getting behind the wheel.
- Fleeing Police: It can be easy to start panicking once those police lights start flashing right behind your car, ordering you pull over. When drivers ignore these orders and engage in a police chase, it often involves extremely high speeds and dangerous circumstances for the driver, the police, and every other person on the road. If you hear those sirens coming, get to the side and out of harm’s way.
- Distracted Driving: When a driver is not paying close enough attention to the road in front of him, there’s a chance that he might deviate into the oncoming lane. When traffic is particularly busy, there can be disastrous consequences.
Get the Help You Need from a Top Dallas Law Firm
Wrong-way accidents can be one of the most violent collisions on the road. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a wrong-way accident, it’s important to hold the right parties accountable. Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP has served countless victims and their families throughout the Dallas and Fort Worth metro area. We have helped our clients receive financial compensation for many damages that resulted from their accident, including medical expenses, lost earnings, and even emotional suffering. Get on the path towards healing by working with our experienced Dallas car crash lawyers. Contact our office at (214) 231-0544 for more information.