Wrong-Way Drivers Can Cause Head On Collisions

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | July 23, 2015
Wrong-Way Drivers Can Cause Head On Collisions

It is late at night and you are heading home after a long day at the office. You know the route from work to home like the back of your hand. Every road, turn, and exit is a familiar step, until something changes and your heart starts to pound. In the short distance ahead of you there is a vehicle’s headlights beaming straight into your front window. The vehicle is clearly traveling the wrong-way making a head-on collision an imminent threat. As drivers, we don’t expect these type of traffic problems to happen, because we take steps to protect ourselves when we are on the road. We try to keep distractions to a minimum, buckle our seatbelts, and follow the posted warnings and signage. The hope as a safe, law abiding driver is that other drivers are maintaining the same level of safety and caution when behind the wheel. The problem is situations, such as wrong-way driving, still occur which place drivers in a dangerous and potentially deadly circumstance.

What is a Wrong-Way Driving Collision?

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, wrong-way driving accidents are one of the most serious types of traffic collisions. The NTSB defines a wrong-way driving accident as the phenomenon that occurs when vehicles traveling on a high-speed divided highway or access ramp collide or impact due to a driver traveling against the direction or flow of traffic.

Why Does Wrong-Way Driving Occur?

The NTSB conducted a recent study that revealed characteristics or trends behind wrong-way driving collisions. First, drivers who are over the age of 70 are at a higher risk for being involved or at-fault for a wrong-way driving accident.1 Second, the most common scenario for a wrong-way collision involves entering or exiting a ramp on a weekend night between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.2 Thirdly, major contributors to wrong-way drivers include tired drivers and drivers who are dealing with visibility issues from sight problems, lighting, or bad weather conditions, but the majority of wrong-way drivers are intoxicated.3

How to Respond When Facing a Wrong-Way Driver

The NTSB research study revealed that approximately 400 people die annually from a wrong-way driver.4 This statistic supports the NTSB claim that though wrong-way driving accidents are infrequent, they are often fatal. The NTSB chairman reports that these type of head-on collisions from wrong-way driving are completely preventable.5 The Safe America Foundation reports that there are five tactical and defensive driving tactics to respond to wrong way drivers. First, since drivers are statistically more likely to be intoxicated and attempting to avoid detection, they are likely to drive in the left lane, traveling at a faster speed. So when trying to avoid a wrong way driver swerving to the right is a safe bet. Second, keep your focus on the road ahead by scanning the highway or interstate ahead of you at least a quarter of a mile or to the farthest visible distance. Third, if a driver is impaired, sleeping, inexperienced, or lacking alertness showing your driving intentions may prevent an accident; cautiously using your horn or lights to signal a wrong-way driver is a good defensive tactic to deploy. Also, maintaining safe driving behaviors like buckling up, putting down the cell phone, and notifying the authorities of potentially dangerous encounters can make the difference between a fatal head-on collision and a property-damaging sideswipe. Finally, pay attention to warnings, signage, and other types of direction aids. Many new road reflectors are duel colored to help show the proper flow of traffic with white on one side and red reflectors on the other; if you see the wrong way sign or red reflectors you are probably going the wrong direction, safely stop, pull over, and turn around.6

Contact an Experienced St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If these preventative steps were not able to stop a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver it is important to seek the legal advice of a car accident attorney who can help to seek compensation from the negligent or distracted wrong-way driver. An auto accident claim can involve complicated issues related to insurance policies, liability, emotional trauma, lost wages, punitive damages, and medical expenses. An experienced auto accident attorney can determine what claims should be filed and protect your rights and interests as a victim of a car accident. To contact an auto accident attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.

A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

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