I saw a few stories on wrong-way drivers and earlier wrote about them. That story lead me to several others and low and behold I found that wrong-way accidents aren’t as infrequent as I first assumed. Just in these past few weeks I’ve found quite a few and thought to report on a few to see if there are similarities. I’m still not sure I see any, except drinking while driving don’t work.

IowaFebruary 13, 2009 - A Buick Station Wagon being driven by Theodore Springman and a Dodge Dynasty driven by Rodney Fisher were involved in a head-on crash on I-380 in the northbound lanes of traffic. Springman was driving south in the northbound lanes of travel. The collision occurred around 1:00 P.M. yesterday, Friday, February 13, 2009. Both men were taken to Cedar Rapids’ St. Luke’s Hospital.

Montana - February 13, 2009 - Driving in the eastbound passing lane on I-90 in Gallatin County, Montana.

Several vehicles reportedly swerved to miss the car. A Dodge Durango, traveling east on I-90 at mile marker 317 tried to avoid the car and struck the median, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The Durango sustained extensive damage and its female driver was taken to the hospital for possible head, neck and back injuries, court papers state.

The husband of the woman driving the Durango located a 1989 Ford Festiva that matched the description of the wrong-way driver's vehicle and contacted the car's driver. The husband reportedly told authorities that he smelled alcohol on the defendant's breath and told him to remain while he notified Gallatin County Dispatch.

New MexicoFebruary 13, 2009 – A wrong-way car collides with school bus of middle school children injuring four students. City street with no report of driver’s condition or reasons for driving the wrong way on the roadway.

IllinoisFebruary 5, 2009 – Drunk driver heading the wrong-way on I-255 resulting in the death of three people. Funeral services were held on this day. This wrong-way driver was driving drunk and faces three counts of reckless homicide. The dead include the 32-year old aunt, a 9-year old boy and a 28-year old man.

Michigan – February 12, 2009 – For reasons unknown the driver of a pickup truck drove the wrong-way down an exit ramp, entered U.S. highway 31 northbound in the southbound passing lane causing a three car collision resulting in the death of one and injuring another.

“A three-car crash this morning on southbound U.S. 31 between Laketon and Sherman resulted in one death and injuries to another driver.

Muskgon Police Department Sgt. Monica Shirey said around 7 a.m. a man driving a pickup went the wrong way down the off ramp on southbound U.S. 31 at the Sherman exit ramp.

"We have a witness who said a man driving a pickup truck went the wrong way. He started going northbound in the sounthbound lane on U.S. 31."

Shirey said another vehicle swerved to miss him but the Jeep behind him did not see the pickup truck and they hit head-on.

"The driver (of the Jeep) had no time to make any evasive moves," Shirey said.

Upon impact, the pickup truck flipped over the Jeep into the median, killing the driver.”

EnglandFebruary 12, 2009 - Using a tire flattening device the police stopped a 54 year old man who drive nearly 20 miles the wrong-way on A-38. No reasons were given for the driver’s decision to drive the wrong way. No one was injured or killed.

TexasFebruary 12, 2009 – At about 3:30 A.M. a person driving a sedan headed the wrong way on the W. Sam Houston toll way.  The driver of the sedan died, the passenger was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The other vehicle was a pickup truck was injured and is in critical condition.

FloridaFebruary 10, 2009 – “A 55-year-old man died early Sunday morning after he struck a car while driving his motorcycle the wrong direction on Little Road in Pasco County late Saturday night.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Thomas McCormick of New Port Richey was driving his 2007 Harley-Davidson motorcycle south in the northbound lane of Little Road near Bourbon Street and collided head-on with a 1996 Chevrolet about 11:10 p.m. Saturday. McCormick, who was not wearing a helmet, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center and listed in critical condition. He died at 3:45 a.m. Sunday, the patrol said. The car's driver, Ava Corbin, 41, and a passenger, both of New Port Richey, received minor injures, the accident report said.”

EnglandFebruary 11, 2009 - Driving the wrong-way wasn’t the smartest thing for this criminal to do. After she was stopped the police smelled pot, conducted a search, discovered her stash, then searched her house and found what they believe to be cocaine. Oops this was not her day.

IllinoisFebruary 10, 2009 – Trying to avoid police and evade arrest this man headed the wrong-way onto Highway 242 at which point out of concern for the safety of others police stopped the pursuit. The stolen car was later found and the driver is still being sought.

CaliforniaJanuary 28, 2009 – The Camry driver was approaching Interstate 405 at about 5 a.m. when he crashed into the officer's car, according to the California Highway Patrol. Both cars burst into flames and both men were pronounced dead at the scene. As the officer's body was put into a coroner's van, police, firefighters and CHP officers draped his body in an American flag and saluted.

MassachusettsJanuary 23, 2009 Driver and officer died./ The Culver City police Sgt. Curt Massey was driving eastbound in West Los Angeles when a Toyota Camry heading the opposite direction collided with the officer.

Massey was a 17-year veteran of the Police Department who had received many awards and commendations, said police Chief Don Pederson. Massey was married with three children.

MassachusettsFebruary 7, 2009Attleboro, Police cruiser struck head-on Route 95 around 4:45 a.m. between exits 2 and 4 in the southbound side of the highway.

New MexicoFebruary 5, 2009 – Wrong-way driver drunk drving charges near Grants on Highway 40 at mile marker 72.

OregonFebruary 6, 2009 on I-5 the wrong-way driver crashed into a barrier.  This is the one story providing some ideas and warnings of how to protect yourself.

About wrong-way drivers

Wrong way drivers present an obvious danger to all motorists on our highways. 

The most recent available crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates wrong way drivers are involved in 1.5 percent of all fatal crashes.

Drivers who travel the wrong way on one way highways generally fall into one of our different categories:

  • Intoxicated driver
  • Older drivers who easily get confused
  • Intentional drivers (example - trying to avoid traffic jams / congestion caused by crashes)
  • Inattentive drivers who mistake an off ramp for an on ramp

OSP and ODOT provided the following safety tips and information related to wrong way driver situations:

  • Watch far ahead for signs of a possible wrong way driver, looking for signs similar to pending problems or developing emergency situations such as other traffic braking or swerving to avoid something, or the obvious - headlights coming in the opposite direction.
  • Caution against driving long periods in the inside lane on freeways, especially on curves.
  • Be aware that wrong way drivers usually drive in the inside lane or inside shoulder, believing they are actually on a two-lane highway.
  • Most common types of wrong way driver involved crashes are head-on or sideswipe crashes.
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