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What causes a wrong-way accident on the interstate?

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Crashes

The interstate highway system is highly touted as being one of the safest places you can drive. It has been designed to reduce many of the risks you face on other streets. For example, the lanes going in opposite directions are divided by walls or medians, so you should theoretically never have a head-on collision. These are some of the most dangerous crashes to take place on two-lane roadways, especially in rural areas.

Unfortunately, you will sometimes hear about wrong-way accidents on the interstate, where someone began driving in the wrong direction and collided with a vehicle that was heading in the proper direction. This often happens incredibly quickly, so there’s nothing that the driver who is going in the right direction can even do to avoid the crash. By the time they realize what’s happening, it is too late. So why would this happen if the roads have been designed to prevent it?

It usually means the driver was impaired

Most of the time, studies find that the drivers who cause these wrong-way accidents are simply impaired. Maybe they’ve driven up an exit ramp, thinking it was an on-ramp. Maybe they’ve driven directly past wrong-way signs numerous times. As well as the roadway can be designed, it still can’t physically prevent drivers from doing this, so drug or alcohol impairment can lead to serious mistakes.

Some cases don’t involve impairment. An example could be a teenage driver who just got their license or an older driver who is perhaps dealing with cognitive impairments. Either of them could get confused and make an honest mistake. But impairment is much more common, and those who have been injured by the negligent actions of other drivers need to know what legal options they have.