In my thirty-five years of practicing personal injury law, I have noticed an increase in head-on collisions caused by the other driver driving the wrong direction. Unfortunately, these types of vehicle collisions usually result in serious injuries or death. The 2014 Institute of Transportation Engineers listed Texas, California, and Florida as the states with the highest number of wrong-way driving fatalities. Twenty-two percent of wrong-way crashes are fatal as compared with less than one percent for all other crashes, and most deaths occur from head-on, high-speed collisions.
Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), says these accidents are “completely preventable.” Fifteen percent of wrong-way crashes involve drivers older than seventy-years-old. The real danger is usually alcohol, though. Drunk drivers cause sixty percent of wrong-way crashes.
The state of Florida has initiated a Wrong-Way Pilot Project to lower the rate of wrong-way crashes to improve the safety of the highway systems. In December 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) installed radars and cameras at highway interchanges to snapshot and alert drivers and highway officers that a vehicle is traveling in the wrong direction. The project is also in the process of replacing “Wrong Way” signs with oversized signs with sensor-triggered flashing lights, and Florida Highway Patrol is introducing new loop-technology to alert officers of wrong-way drivers.
Although preventative measures are being implemented along Florida highways, there are five defensive driving tactics set forth by Safe America to make you a safe driver behind the wheel:
- Swerve to the right
When trying to avoid a wrong-way driver, swerve to the right. Many of the wrong-way drivers get on the freeways and immediately go all the way to the right side of the freeway because they think it is the slow lane. Since wrong-way drivers are most likely intoxicated, they do not want to get pulled over for speeding.
- Heads up
Look up, look ahead, and scan the freeway. People tend to look no further than a couple of hundred feet ahead of them. You can easily look ahead to give yourself time to see danger coming.
- Show your intentions
There are three common reasons why people drive on the wrong side of the road: driving under the influence of an impairing substance like alcohol or sleeping pills, inexperience, and a lack of mental alertness. As a defensive driver, be as clear as possible with your signal lights as to your intentions.
- Buckle-up and look out for the safety of others
The majority of crashes involving wrong-way drivers are head-on collisions and side-swipes. In these types of crashes, you increase your chances of surviving if you are wearing your seatbelt. If you see a wrong-way driver, pull over as soon as possible and call 911. Give the dispatcher the license plate number, if possible, description of the vehicle, and location and direction of travel.
- Quick! What color are reflectors on the road?
Did you answer white? Good. A lot of road reflectors used currently are duel colored, white on one side and red on the other. Most people don’t know this since they are rarely on the wrong side of the road. So, if you are seeing red reflectors on the road, you are on the wrong side.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a wrong-way driving accident or any accident, my team and I can help you. I am a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer with over 30 years of experience in helping the injured, proudly serving the people of Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, and Okeechobee. Call me for a free case analysis and evaluation.
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