Study: most wrong way crashes caused by drunk drivers

One of the most dangerous types of auto accidents here in Illinois is also, perhaps, one of the most preventable. Hundreds of Americans are killed each year in wrong-way car accidents, those in which drivers drive the wrong direction into oncoming traffic.

Federal research now shows that the majority of wrong-way car accidents involve drunk driving. In fact, in about 60 percent of these accidents the wrong-way driver has more than twice the legal blood alcohol content.

In light of this research, the National Transportation Safety Board is now meeting to determine what can be done to put a halt to such dangerous car accidents.

In the first week of December alone, 11 people were killed and nine people were injured in wrong-way collisions. Annually, about 360 people lose their lives in such accidents on U.S. roads.

Wrong-way crashes, especially on highways, are often fatal. One study found that 22 percent of wrong-way accidents result in death, compared to just .3 percent of all other car accidents.

In addition to drunk driving, researchers also found that age is linked to wrong-way car collisions. The researchers reviewed car accident data from crashes that took place from 2004 to 2009 and found that drivers over the age of 70 accounted for 15 percent of the wrong-way drivers.

However, alcohol remains as possibly the most dangerous factor. In order to counter this, the NTSB is considering recommending that all states require even first-time DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. IDDs are essentially in-car breath tests that prevent the car from starting if it detects alcohol on the driver’s breath. Seventeen states, including Illinois, do already have this requirement.

Source: Associated Press, “Wrong-way driving crashes claim hundreds of lives,” Dec. 11, 2012

  • Our law firm in Madison County helps victims of car accidents seek compensation for their injuries. We also help the families of victims of fatal car accidents file wrongful death lawsuits. To learn more about this area of our practice, visit our Drunk Driving Accident page.