A wrong-way driver barreling toward your vehicle is perhaps one of the most frightening events to experience on the road.
Approximately 350 people a year lose their lives because of a wrong-way driving collision, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data. While wrong-way crashes are relatively uncommon, comprising about 3% of all motor vehicle accidents, they are the leading type of motor vehicle accident to result in a fatality.
In fact, The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates the fatality rate to fall between 12 and 27% higher than all other types of collisions.
Commercial fleet drivers — especially those that drive at night — should be reminded of this frightening roadway hazard and know how what to do in the event they encounter a wrong-way driver. Experts offer the following advice:
Anticipate What's Ahead
It's very important to look at the road ahead and anticipate any possible dangers. Look beyond the first few cars ahead and scan the entire width of the roadway — not just ahead in your own lane.
By doing so, you increase your odds of spotting a wrong-way driver sooner, giving you more time to move out of the way in a scenario where every second counts.
Caution at Night and on Weekends
NTSB research finds that 70% of wrong-way crashes occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The data also shows there are more wrong-way collisions on weekends as opposed to weekdays.
At nights and on weekends, the uptick in wrong-way accidents may be due to alcohol-impaired drivers who comprise the majority of wrong-way drivers.
Drive in the Right Lane
Wrong-way drivers tend to drive in the left lane. In fact, seven out of nine wrong-way crashes occur in the lane closest to the median, notes NTSB.
As always, it's imperative to stay alert to the roadway by avoiding distractions such as eating, fiddling with the radio or manipulating a cellphone. In the event a wrong-way driver suddenly appears, having your full attention on the road could save your life.
Pull Over to the Right
If you see a wrong-way driver coming toward you, do your best to pull over to the shoulder. Don't apply the brakes. It's better to swerve out of the way, and you will likely only have a few split seconds to react.
If you manage to avoid a wrong-way driver, make sure to report it immediately while you are stopped on the side of the road. You could help save someone's life.