How Common Are Wrong Way Accidents?
March 22nd, 2021|
Every year in the U.S., 300 to 400 people die in wrong way accidents. One out of every 100 vehicle fatalities happens in these types of crashes.
Statewide, an average of 225 wrong way collisions happen every year just on freeways and expressways alone in California.
Wrong way accidents occur when a driver enters a one-way road traveling the wrong direction and causes a crash with a vehicle traveling the correct way. The most severe wrong way accidents typically occur when a driver enters an exit or entrance ramp traveling the wrong direction, but these crashes can also happen on one-way streets in urban and residential areas.
Negligence-Related Wrong Way Crashes
When a driver travels the wrong way on an entrance ramp, exit ramp, or one-way street, there could be several contributing factors, including:
- Impairment (drugs or alcohol)
- Unfamiliarity with a location
It’s up to each driver to make sure they’re following the rules of the road. This means staying sober and focused behind the wheel, in addition to paying close attention to the traffic signs and signals placed around intersections.
In most cases, signs and signals are adequate enough to alert drivers that they’re turning the wrong way on roads. However, the visibility and placement of signage can also make wrong way accidents more likely.
How Infrastructure Contributes to Wrong Way Accidents
The way that intersections are built and signs are erected can also contribute to the occurrence of wrong way accidents. A few examples include:
- Failure to clearly mark ramps
- Failure to place signs clearly or in locations where signs are fully reflective at night
- Missing signs
- Improper ramp design
- Low sign visibility due to obstruction by buildings, vegetation, or other objects
Though infrastructure can be a contributing factor to wrong way accidents in California, the state is taking steps to make our roads as safe as possible.
In July 2020, Caltrans and the UC Davis Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology Research Center released two reports detailing ways to prevent wrong way accidents.
The findings came after the completion of a three-year pilot study in which different methods of wrong way accident prevention were implemented on designated roads in California. The pilot study tried strategies including:
- Two-way reflective pavement markers that show white or yellow to right way drivers, and red to wrong way drivers
- “Wrong Way” signs at the off-ramp
- “Do Not Enter” signs equipped with LED lights flashing 24 hours a day
- Active monitoring systems that use radar to detect wrong way drivers and LED signs that activated when a wrong way driver entered the ramp.
The implementation of reflectors resulted in a 44% decrease in wrong way accidents on one stretch of road, leading Caltrans to install reflective markers on hundreds of miles of highways in the state.
As California takes steps to address infrastructure shortcomings that make wrong way accidents more likely, it’s up to drivers to do their part in keeping our roads safe.
If You Need Legal Help, Contact Us
At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California car accident lawyers have years of experience holding negligent drivers responsible, including those who cause wrong way accidents. If you’d like to speak to our team, contact us today for a free, no-obligation case assessment.