How do wrong-way highway car accidents happen?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Few things are as terrifying as driving down the highway late at night and noticing a pair of headlights coming straight at you at 55 mph or above. The next few seconds could put the lives and safety of yourself and anyone else in your car in extreme danger.

Thankfully, wrong-way car accidents are fairly rare in Oakland. But they do happen. And because the force of two vehicles colliding head-on at highway speeds is so great, these crashes are much more likely to cause fatal or severely disabling injuries.

Three causes of wrong-way wrecks

Few responsible drivers ever cross a highway median or enter through an exit ramp. It can be baffling to imagine how a motorist can end up on the wrong side of the road without apparently realizing. The National Transportation Safety Board published a study in 2012 that identified several common reasons for wrong-way crashes, including:

  • Alcohol and/or drug impairment
  • Older age with its associated limitations, like reduced vision and dementia
  • Poor lighting and/or signage to warn drivers

Obviously, drugs and alcohol can impair judgment and reduce alertness. So can being older for many drivers. And no matter how careful and alert a motorist is, they can get confused by an unfamiliar exit that lacks sufficient lighting, a Wrong Way sign and other safety measures.

Negligence can lead to disaster

All three of these factors involve negligence. Driving while drunk or high is a dangerous choice. So is continuing to drive despite physical or mental infirmities. And city, county and state governments have a responsibility to keep the roads maintained, well-lit and clearly marked with signs. Negligence from a driver or government entity that leads to a terrible wrong-way car accident means that they are liable for their victims’ injuries.

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