by Tim O’Hare
Each year, more than 300 wrong-way crashes occur on Texas roadways. This week alone, two people were killed and at least three others injured in two separate wrong-way car accidents on Dallas-Fort Worth highways. Last month, a wrong way accident involving five vehicles took the life of one person and hospitalized several others. A wrong-way crash in South Dallas last August killed four people.
The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that wrong-way driving accounts for about three percent of all high-speed highway accidents. Wrong-way crashes on highways are particularly deadly, as they involve a head-on collision between two vehicles traveling at high rates of speed. According to Federal data, approximately 350 people die every year as the result of a wrong-way accident.
The Texas Department of Transportation has been looking at ways to prevent wrong-way driving, including flashing wrong-way signs, and warning others of a wrong-way driver via digital highway signs. In some parts of the state, law enforcement agencies are using radars to detect wrong way drivers in hopes of stopping them before an accident occurs.
Following the most recent wrong-way accidents, TxDOT has announced a study to begin in September to determine what, if any, further safety precautions can be taken to help reduce the number of wrong-way crashes on Texas roadways.
Although some wrong-way car accidents can be attributed to driver confusion or medical conditions, many of these accidents are caused by drunk driving. It is easy to see how someone who is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol could mistake a highway exit ramp for an entrance ramp. An NTSB special investigation report states that nearly two-thirds of wrong-way drivers in fatal collisions were driving under the influence of alcohol, and at lest 57 percent had a blood-alcohol level above .15 percent.
Reduce your risk of becoming the victim of a wrong-way crash with these tips:
• Drive in the right lane. Most drivers drive in the right lane, which means someone who is driving the wrong way is more likely to be traveling in the left lane of oncoming traffic (the lane to the wrong-way driver’s right).
• Avoid driving late at night. Many wrong-way and drunk driving accidents occur in the late hours of the night or early hours of the morning. Whether you are on a road trip or simply traveling home from an evening out with friends, make a point to avoid driving late at night.
• Report wrong-way drivers. If you see somebody driving the wrong-way, call 911 immediately. The sooner law enforcement is notified the greater the chance the wrong-way driver will be stopped before causing a deadly accident.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of drunk driving or a wrong-way car accident, contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare for a free consultation with a Dallas personal injury attorney.
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