ATLANTA --- For the second time in just three days, a driver traveling the wrong way on an Atlanta highway has caused a fatal collision.  The motorist, traveling westbound at 3 a.m. on March 18 in the eastbound lanes of I-282 in DeKalb County, was killed when his car collided head-on with a tractor-trailer, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.  

According to DeKalb police, the driver was 20-year-old Andrew Michael Cardenas of Stockbridge. He apparently got on the interstate going the wrong way at Northlake Parkway and drove about five miles before the fatal collision. Cardenas was partially ejected from his 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier.

Earlier in the week, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported, Nicasio Rodrigo Vicente-Hernandez was driving a minivan the wrong way on the Canton Road Connector in Marietta when his vehicle collided with a car driven by Rodney James Godfrey.

Both drivers died in the collision, along with Godrey's 17-year-old son Eric, who was a passenger.

Law enforcement and traffic safety researchers don't fully understand all the factors that can lead drivers to travel the wrong way on freeways. But in general nationwide, alcohol and drugs often play a major role, according to the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. 

A 1989 California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) study concluded that impaired drivers were involved in 59.4 percent of all wrong-way crashes. Most wrong-way crashes, according to the study, occurred at night, rising after 10 p.m. and peaking between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., just after bars and other drinking establishments close in California.

State departments of transportation continue to research and develop preventative measures. They have experimented with intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technology, high-intensity reflective sheeting for signs, and thermoplastic, methyl methacrolate, and preformed cold-applied-tape wrong-way arrows, all of which are more visible to drivers, the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center said.

In addition, the Caltrans study suggested that some interchange designs are more likely to confuse drivers and make them more likely to enter a highway going the wrong way. The two-quadrant cloverleaf, full-diamond interchange, half-diamond interchange, trumpet interchange and buttonhook ramp designs pose such potential problems -- making signage that much more important to prevent wrong-way accidents.