On the road, no scenario is more terrifying than a wrong way driver. A car, or truck, that is driving against the flow of traffic at a high rate of speed. Wrong way drivers usually end up causing the worst kind of car accident, a head on collision. Keep in mind that when two cars crash head on at 70 mph, the drivers will feel an impact of 140 mph. What is rare is that a head on collision doesn’t end with a fatality or serious injury but rather creates a life changing experience that can haunt an individual for life.
Leading the Nation the Wrong Way
Over the last ten years nearly 4,000 people have been killed in wrong way accidents nationwide. Texas alone is leading the nation in the number of wrong way driver accidents. Dallas/ Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio are some of the areas where the most wrong way accidents have occurred. It is with no surprise that the Texas government has taken a lot of heat for their lack of urgency in coming up with safety measures. To prevent wrong way drivers from entering the highway.
The first step in preventing a driver from entering an on-ramp in the wrong direction is to put up a sign warning them. Wrong way signs are the first line of defense in preventing drivers from heading straight into on coming traffic. There have been studies that prove lowering the sign down to three feet off the ground increases their visibility at a near distance and drivers are more likely to see them and react.
California adopted this tactic during the 1970’s and other states have followed since, but Texas does not seem convinced that this will work and wants more research done. The Texas Department of Transportation says that if they lower the signs down to two feet they will be safer if a driver crashes into them. Lowering the signs would cost between $200-300 per sign and yet nothing is being done.
Right Time, Wrong Place
Why do so many people find themselves going the wrong way on our highways? Most incidents are a result of the driver being intoxicated or under the influence, or they were merely confused. In 2011, there were 185 reports of wrong way drivers in San Antonio, which resulted in seven fatalities. It is a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 80% of the wrong way crashes happened between 10 pm and 6 am.
The reports for wrong way driver accidents spikes after 2 am. Between 2 am – 4 am is known as “dead hours”. Because it is the most dangerous time to be on the road. The bars and clubs close for the night and people start making their way home, sober or not.