Jody Kay Hargrove, 53-year old woman from Fairfield, Iowa, was traveling southbound on Osage Ave. in Jefferson County when she crossed the center line traveling partially into the northbound lane. Her vehicle struck an oncoming northbound vehicle, driven by Amber Rose Lunsford of Stockport, Iowa. Ms. Lunsford suffered injuries, but survived the crash. Ms. Hargrove was wearing her seat belt, but was fatally injured.
Wrong-Way Road Travel Leads to Fatality
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:
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
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.