November 2021: A young man inexplicably lost his life in Jacksonville after another motorist slammed into him while traveling in the wrong direction on I-295. Two other wrong-way driving incidents occurred just a month earlier, one on I-95, the other on State Road 408. Both resulted in fatalities. Florida has, in fact, the second highest number of highway fatalities related to wrong-way collisions in the nation, with an average of 34.3 every year. Why do these kinds of accidents happen, what can be done to prevent them, and what recourse is there for survivors?
Why do they Happen?
According to one Florida Highway Patrol Lieutenant, there are three key reasons for wrong-way driving (WWD) collisions:
- Driver impairment due to alcohol or drugs;
- Mental incapacity or confusion related to early dementia;
- Drivers who wish to commit suicide.
The fact that most WWD incidents occur after dark tells us that in many cases, drivers struggle with visibility of roadway signs and attributes. This may be due to a number of factors, from poor eyesight to deteriorating signage.
Statistics Worth Knowing
Across the nation, wrong-way crashes are a serious problem. Those that occur on divided highways number roughly 500 annually, which is a 34 percent rise over the past several years. 60 percent of those collisions involved alcohol. Nearly ninety percent of wrong-way drivers are driving alone, meaning no one was in the vehicle to warn of impending danger that the driver didn’t see.
What can be done to address the WWD numbers we are facing? Attention to impairment is critical, and some suggest Ignition Interlock Systems could be helpful. High visibility enforcement strategies, such as sobriety checkpoints, could make a big difference. Additionally, better identification of senior drivers who might suffer physical or mental impairments might save some lives. Naturally, making improvements to signage and road design could lessen confusion, particularly relating to freeway ramps and one-way roads, where a large portion of these accidents occur. Finally, interventions to address depression and suicidal tendencies will help many.
Victims of Wrong-Way Accidents
Tragically, WWD accidents lead to death more often than other kinds of accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in such an incident due to reckless or careless driving by another motorist, you know just how horrendous they can be. Survivors of these accidents, or families of the deceased, do have some legal recourse though, through personal injury and/or wrongful death lawsuits. It is possible to recover damages to address the costs associated with the accident, as well as lost wages and more. The determined Kissimmee personal injury attorneys at Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. can help you to recover the damages you deserve. Schedule a confidential consultation today.