There are many different types of vehicular accidents that occur every day on our roads. But wrong way driving crashes are among the most deadly, given the fact that the vehicles involved in them are heading toward each other, multiplying the effect of the speed they’re traveling. Unfortunately, new data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that fatal wrong way driving crashes have risen rapidly in recent years.
According to the data analysis, there were 2,008 deaths from wrong-way driving crashes on divided highways in the U.S. between 2015 and 2018, an average of approximately 500 deaths a year. That’s a 34 percent increase from 2010 to 2014, which saw an average of 375 deaths per year over that timeframe.
In addition, AAA’s research analyzed eight factors related to wrong way crashes and determined that three of them greatly increase the odds someone is involved in this type of accident – older age, alcohol-impairment, and driving without a passenger. Six out of every ten wrong way crashes involved alcohol, while those with blood alcohol concentrations over the legal limit of 0.08 were significantly more likely to be wrong-way drivers than non-alcohol-impaired drivers involved in the same crashes.
The data also shows that drivers over age 70 are more at risk of wrong-way driving than their younger counterparts, despite the fact that older drivers ages 75-79 spent less time on the road and drove fewer miles per trip than younger age groups.
However, a passenger’s presence may offer some protection against being a wrong-way driver, as nearly 87 percent of wrong-way drivers were alone. Passengers may alert drivers that they are entering a one-way road, preventing them from entering the highway in the wrong direction, or alerting them to their error, helping the driver take corrective action before a crash occurs.