There may be no more terrifying driving situation than one involving a set of headlights coming directly at you on the highway. For too many people, this situation ends with catastrophic injuries or fatalities after a wrong-way accident.
Collisions caused by someone driving the wrong way down the road can be particularly devastating. They often happen at high speeds and cars typically crash head-on, so they can result in maximum damage to the cars and the people inside. A comprehensive analysis on wrong-way accidents conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board illustrates how big of a problem these crashes are and what can be done to prevent them.
Several factors have been identified as contributing to wrong-way crashes. These factors include driver impairment, poor signage and limited visibility. The age of a driver can also play a role in these accidents. Younger drivers and elderly drivers both have relatively high rates of wrong-way driving.
States have taken steps to prevent these crashes. For instance, in Georgia, we typically see multiple signs alerting drivers of what is the wrong way to enter a road. There may even be markings on the road to tell us not to go a certain way. However, there are many people who would argue that still more needs to be done to prevent wrong-way driving.
The NTSB has made numerous recommendations to address this. It has recommended better placement of signage, ramp designs that have lower rates of wrong-way entry, lighting elements on the road and better monitoring of highways so that police can see and stop a wrong-way driver sooner. Many states have adopted at least some of these recommendations.
Unfortunately, all the efforts that have already been in put in place to prevent people from driving the wrong way down the road can only do so much. Ultimately, it is up to the individual driver to avoid reckless, negligent behavior that can lead to a serious accident. Staying focused and alert is crucial to driving safely. Those who do not do this can and should be held accountable if their actions have tragic consequences for others.