Wrong-way drivers are causing deaths in America’s interstate highway system all across the United States. Wrong-way collisions can have several causes and there are things we can do to educate ourselves from being involved in one. With two vehicles traveling towards one another at 70 mph death is almost certain.  So what can you do to avoid being in one?

For several months I’ve collected news items on wrong-way collisions and have analyzed where, when and how they occurred. There have been so many that I can only cover the month of July for 2009 and that is enough to provide us with 70 separate wrong-way collisions from hundreds of news stories.  From these news reported collisions that here are the general causes and how we can avoid being one of those who die from a wrong-way driver coming towards us at 50 to 70 mph.

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
  • Purposeful acts including attempts to commit suicide and criminals attempting to elude the police
  • Inattentive drivers who mistake an off-ramp for an on-ramp
  • Mental defect or disease
  • Prescription drug intoxication
  • Inexperience
  • GPS providing incorrect, inaccurate or confusing information

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 left lane on freeways, especially on curves and over a hill or any rise in the road where you aren’t able to clearly see ahead.
  • Be aware that wrong way drivers usually drive in the passing lane believing they are actually on a two-lane highway.
  • The most common types of wrong way crashes are head-on or sideswipe crashes.

What should you do if you see a wrong-way driver?

·         Get to the shoulder and stop.

·         If you can’t get to the shoulder, slow down and attempt to safely stop your vehicle by pulling to the right.

·         Sound your horn.

·         Put on your lights and flash the high beams.

·         Call 9-1-1.

·         Before getting in the car wear your seat belts.

·         Drive in the right hand lane of travel on the Interstate.

·         When passing or coming to the crest of a hill look ahead for a wrong-way driver making sure the lane is clear.

·         Assume when in the left hand lane of a divided highway that you may come upon a wrong-way driver.

·         When driving on a divided highway stay vigilant and pay attention to what is ahead of you. Avoid allowing distractions to take your attention off the road ahead.

How can drivers avoid wrong-way driving?

·         Don’t drive drunk.

·         When coming to a divided highway come to a complete stop, look at and read the signs, making sure you know which way to go.

·         Don’t allow vehicles to the rear to rush you.

·         Stay off the telephone when driving.

·         Don’t allow distractions to interfere with being vigilant about your driving.

·         If you’re a young driver, don’t drive when the other passengers are a distraction.

·         If you’re an elderly driver, get evaluated once a year to see if your senses and skill level allow you to safely drive. Don’t be so stubborn about giving up your driver’s license that you ignore the signs of perception difficulties. Invest in and use a GPS.


Wrong-way driver charged with DWI
Buffalo News
By Maki Becker A 51-year-old Town of Wales man was charged early today with driving while intoxicated after he drove the wrong way on the Aurora Expressway, the Erie County Sheriff's office said. Deputies stopped a 1992 Chevrolet on Olean Road in the ...

Police: Wrong-way driver involved in Tuesday crash had no valid license
Orlando Sentinel
By Anika Myers Palm, Orlando Sentinel AnOrlando man accused of driving the wrong way on a major street and stricking an oncoming vehicle Tuesday morning does not have a valid driver license, according to the Orlando Police Department. ...

Wrong-way driver
on I-94 pleads guilty to 3rd drunken driving offense

An Ann Arbor man who was arrested after driving the wrong way down Interstate 94 in Pittsfield Township while intoxicated pleaded guilty to his third drunken driving offense, according to court records. Scott Dean, 46, pleaded guilty this week to ...

Police Log: Wrong-Way Drivers, Road Rage

By Mary MacDonald Police responded to numerous problems on the roads, according to the overnight log, including reports of an elderly couple driving on the wrong side of Prospect Street, and that a car had hit a house on Depot Street. ...

Death of wrong-way driver in fatal I-88 crash ruled a suicide

Suburban Life Publications
By Anonymous The death of the man who allegedly drove the wrong way on I-88, causing an accident that killed two Elmhurst residents Aug. 6, has been ruled a suicide. William A. Howe, 43, of Naperville, was pronounced dead at 4:29 pm Friday at Loyola ...

Wrong way driver
causes crash

(WOFL FOX 35) - Orlando Police are investigating an overnight crash where the driver was going the wrong way on the road. Officials say it happened just after 1:00 am Tuesday when a driver was heading the wrong way on LB McLeod and John Young Parkway ...

APD: Driver who hit officer was over legal limit

The Seattle Times
Fulling was driving a rental sedan north on the southbound side of the highway, police said. Hughes was responding to reports about the wrong-way driver when the crash occurred. Hughes tried to veer out of the way, but Fulling's sedan hit the cruiser ...

FHP: Wrong way drunk driver kills motorist on SR 528

Orlando Sentinel
By Arelis R. Hernández, Orlando Sentinel An Orlando man is dead after he was struck by a drunk driver traveling the wrong way on State Road 528 Saturday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Louchon Burnard Jackson, 45, of Orlando was ...

Burr Ridge Police Ticket Driver for DUI, Driving Wrong Way on Road

By Ken Manson A 37-year-old Burbank man was ticketed by Burr Ridge police for driving under the influence of alcohol at Route 83 and 91 st St at about 2:21 am Sept. 24. Boguslaw Pawlikowski of 8223 S. Meade also was ticketed for driving the wrong way ...

2 injured in wrong-way wreck on I-85 in DeKalb

Atlanta Journal Constitution
By Joel Provano Two people were seriously injured early Thursday when a wrong-way driver collided head-on with a car on I-85 in DeKalb County. DeKalb police dispatchers received numerous calls starting around 2 am of a car driving north in the ...

APD: Driver who hit officer was over legal limit - seattlepi.com

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A Washington state man charged in a wrong-way collision in Alaska that severely injured an Anchorage police officer was driving with a blood-alcohol content of almost three times the legal limit, according to the ...

Wrong way driver
crash on I-85 leaves one critical - CBS Atlanta 46

At least one person is in critical condition after a crash involving a wrong way driver on I-85 South at Clairmont Road in DeKalb County.

-way driver on I-94 pleads guilty to 3rd drunken driving offense

An Ann Arbor man who was arrested after driving the wrong way down Interstate 94 in Pittsfield Township while intoxicated pleaded guilty to his third drunken ...

-way driver on U.S. 131 causes crashes, witnesses report ...

A wrong-way driver has caused multiple crashes on southbound U.S. 131 around noon, dispatch reports say.

Wrong Way Driver
- FOX 17

A wrong-way driver caused some hair-raising moments on southbound US-131 Monday, but police managed to pull the driver over.

-way driver arrested after hitting motorcyclist in Dallas | wfaa ...

A driver is under investigation for driving under intoxication after an overnight crash near Fair Park in Dallas.

Arizona testing new safeguards against wrong-way drivers
AZ Central.com
Wrong-way drivers have become an increasing problem in Arizona and nationwide over the past few years. In 2009, the latest year with available data, 1772 people in the United States, including 23 in Arizona, died in crashes in which a driver entered a ...

Wrong way driver on I-94 gets four years in prison
Newsradio 620
This after Julian-Jorge was convicted of driving drunk the wrong way on I-43 in April and then smashed head on into an SUV. His passenger barely survived. The driver of the SUV luckily only suffered minor injuries. "This ranks up there...short of ...

Wrong-way driver
causes late-night wreck on Interstate 84

By Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian Portland police say an 81-year-old woman drove the wrong way on Interstate 84 about midnight Tuesday, slamming head-on into an oncoming car. Police this morning say both drivers and one passenger escaped injury. ...

I-270 Wrong-Way Driver Caught on Town and Country Dash Cam

A Town and Country Police officer reportedly captures a wrong-way driver heading straight for him on his dash cam. By Gabrielle Biondo The Town and Country Police Department said the photo included in this article shows a wrong-way driver on ...

Vehicle driving wrong way on busy street

Chatham Daily News
The driver was taken to hospital accompanied by the investigating officer. By Ellwood Shreve Chatham-Kent police are investigating a bizarre incident in Chatham involving a driver who was seen by several people driving the wrong way on St. Clair Street ...

Police Log: Wrong-Way Driver Cited for OUI; Theft Spree Hits Dedham

At 1:40 am, police pulled over Glenna Saulnier, 51 of Bellingham, as she drove the wrong-way on Providence Highway. Officers stated she had slurred speech and admitted to having a few rum and Coke cocktails at a party before driving. ...

Fatal Wrong-Way Accident on the Long Island Expressway

NBC New York
Police say a livery cab was struck by a car driving the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway early Saturday morning, fatally injuring the cab's passenger. Police say a livery cab was struck by a car driving in the wrong lane on the Long Island ...

Cleveland: Wrong-way driver crashes at Dead Man's Curve

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Police received several eyewitness accounts from drivers that a car was headed west in the eastbound lanes on the Shoreway. The car passed East 72nd Street, then East 55th Street, where it finally hit two other cars at Dead Man's ...

Alleged Drunk Driver Going Wrong Way Almost Hit Braintree Police Car

By Joseph Markman Just before 3:30 am last Friday, a Braintree police detective was driving south on Quincy Avenue when a vehicle coming the other way veered into his lane, forcing him to pull over to the curb to avoid a collision. ...

Aurora police blotter: Driving wrong way on one-way street and more

A 25-year-old Elgin man was charged with driving the wrong way on a one-way street and driving on a suspended/revoked license following an arrest at 7:35 pm on Oct. 2 near the intersection of North Broadway and East New York Street. ...

Police: Elderly wrong-way driver causes head-on crash on I-84 ...

Police said they got a call just before midnight Tuesday about a wrong-way driver on I-84 heading eastbound. The driver, identified as Beverly Jeanne Powers, ...

-way I-84 driver causes head-on collision

Re: Wrong-way I-84 driver causes head-on collision. She obvioously doesn't need to be driving and needs to have her license taken away asap.wonder when ...

Wrong-way driver
hurt in crash, charged in connection with DUI

Belleville News Democrat
BY MARIA BARAN - News-Democrat A woman was charged with driving under the influence after allegedly driving the wrong-way on Interstate 55-70 for more than four miles and crashing head-on into another car Friday night west of Collinsville, police said. ...

Wrong-way Driver
Indicted for Fatal Crash

Police said she had been driving her vehicle in the wrong direction of the Thruway for at least 6.4 miles in New York City and Westchester County. Gomez was alone in her car. There was a driver and a front-seat passenger, Reginald Lee, ...

Man mowed down after confronting wrong-way driver

The Age
Earlier, a 39-year-old man was deliberately run down after he confronted a driver for travelling the wrong way down a one-way street. Police said the man suffered a broken leg when the four-wheel-drive accelerated at him. Police say the two crashes are ...

Blotter: Wrong-Way Driver Strikes Child

3:06pm Police received a report from Hickory Place that a truck driving the wrong way down a one way street hit a child. The child was left with minor injuries. 4:11am Employees at Walgreens on El Camino Real called police reporting that a man had gone ...

Police: Wrong-way driver breaks man's jaw while attempting to escape in taxi ...

A man attempted to commandeer a taxi and broke the jaw of a witness while running away from the scene of an accident he caused by driving the wrong way down Union Street early this morning, according to the Seattle Police Department. ...

Police: Man Driving Wrong Way On I-287 Killed

By Jessica Mazzola A Bloomingdale man died early Saturday morning after driving the wrong way in the southbound lane of I-287 in Mahwah, Mahwah Lt. Phillip Tangel said. Jonathan Andriac, 28, was driving northbound in the southbound lane at about 2 am ...

Wrong way driver

He is also charged with leaving the scene involving a death, vehicular homicide and driving the wrong way on a roadway. Louchon Burnard Jackson, 45, and his son also named Louchon were in the other car. That vehicle spun out and struck a palm tree on ...

Banned car thief jailed for driving at 100mph the wrong way down A64

Yorkshire Post
A JUDGE has attacked sentencing guidelines after jailing a car thief who drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway in York at more than 100mph before causing a head-on crash. James Ramsden, 25, was already banned from driving when he sped through ...

Story behind cop's liquor-fogged, wrong-way ride

If getting hit by a wrong-way driver wasn't shocking enough, what happened next was even more jarring. An occupant of the wrong-way car, a 2006 Lexus 250 IS, didn't check if they were OK, didn't offer assistance, and didn't call 911. ...

JPD Investigates B&E And Arrests Wrong Way Driver

The investigation is continuing. Also on Thursday, officers stopped a motorist who was traveling in the wrong direction on Louis Glick. The driver was taken into custody and is now facing charges of operating while intoxicated, the driver had a BAC of ...

-way driver killed in crash on I-75 near Findlay, savidge ...

Local News: Wrong-way driver killed in crash on I-75 near Findlay, savidge, findlay, carroll, crash, trailer, interstate, tractor, hospital, fire, way.    
Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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