When an impaired driver unwittingly enters a high-speed divided highway using an exit ramp, instead of an entry ramp, the outcome is often tragic. The vast majority of crashes involving a wrong-way driver are head-on collisions.
A Michigan study found that 22% of wrong-way crashes resulted in a fatality. Wrong-way drivers are typically 20-50 years old and impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both. Statistics indicate that drivers over 70 years old, who aren’t impaired by alcohol, are also at a greater risk for wrong-way driving.
Wrong-way collisions occur most often at night and during the weekends, according to a 2012 study by the National Transportation Safety Board. Such crashes also tend to happen in left or center lanes. That’s because drivers realize they’re impaired and decide to drive in what they think are the slower lanes. Traveling in the wrong direction, they are unaware that their right lane is actually the left lane.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has designated July as Wrong-Way Driving Awareness Month, hoping to draw greater attention to this public safety hazard. DHSMV offers the following safety tips for motorists to avoid wrong-way driving crashes:
- Stay right at night to avoid crashes with wrong-way drivers.
- Call 911 immediately to report wrong-way drivers. If you see a wrong-way driver approaching, immediately reduce your speed and pull off the roadway.
- Stay alert — do not drive distracted. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Learn and obey all traffic signs. If you drive past a wrong-way sign, turn around immediately.
To view a video about Florida’s response to a recent spike in wrong-way driving, click on the photo or link below the headline. To view a video about how San Antonio is using technology to prevent wrong-way crashes, click here.