While not the most common type of car accident, a wrong-way driving (WWD) crash can cause catastrophic and even fatal injuries. This is because vehicles frequently collide head-on—often at high speeds. The U.S. Department of Transportation indicates that WWD accidents result in 300–400 deaths each year.
Top Causes of Wrong-Way Car Wrecks
WWD car accidents frequently happen on highway entrance and exit ramps, highways, and one-way streets. The person traveling the wrong way often doesn't realize it until it's too late to avoid a crash.
Here are some common negligent driving behaviors that frequently cause these accidents:
- Intoxication. One of the most common causes of wrong-way wrecks is intoxication due to alcohol or drug use. When a person is intoxicated, it affects his reaction time, vision, judgment, and other important driving skills necessary to avoid going the wrong way on a road, ramp, or highway. These tragic wrecks often occur at night on highway exit or entrance ramps or the highways.
- Distracted driving. When a driver is distracted by eating or drinking, talking on his cellphone, texting, or changing the radio station, his eyes and mind aren't on the road. He could easily take a wrong turn or miss a warning sign without even realizing it until he's about to smash into oncoming traffic head-on.
- Drowsy driving. Many people drive when they're too tired to safely do so. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. When a driver is fighting to stay away or falls asleep at the wheel, his vehicle can veer over the center line or he can enter the highway using the exit ramp and cause a devastating wreck.
- Weather conditions. When there's heavy fog or rain, it can make it more difficult for drivers to see road signs. However, a person can still be found negligent in a wrong-way accident if he didn't slow down enough or take other actions to ensure that he wasn't going the wrong way on a street or using the exit ramp when entering a busy highway.
- Inadequate lighting. When street lights are malfunctioning or inadequate, a driver may not be able to see an entrance or exit ramp sign onto the highway or a street sign warning of an upcoming one-way street, even if he's trying to be careful. If this is the cause of the collision, the victim may have a claim against the municipality responsible for maintaining the street lights. These claims can be more complicated due to special notice and other procedural requirements that must be met when filing a claim.
- Poor signage. In some cases, a wrong-way car accident is caused by missing or obstructed signs. If signs aren't replaced when knocked down by drivers, or foliage isn't cut down that hides a sign, a motorist has no way of knowing that he's going the wrong way on a ramp, highway, or road. The claim, in this case, would also be against a governmental agency that's responsible for sign maintenance. It's important to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible if poor signage was the cause of your wreck.
Common Injuries Victims Suffer in Wrong-Way Accidents
Most unsuspecting victims don't have notice of the oncoming vehicle until it's too late to brake or take other actions to avoid the crash. Injuries that victims suffer include:
- Broken bones and serious fractures
- Head and brain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
Get the Legal Assistance You Need
Did a loved one or you suffer injuries in a wrong-way crash caused by another driver? Attorney Mark C. Blane is an experienced car accident lawyer who can help you obtain justice and the compensation you deserve for your injuries. He represents injured car accident victims in San Diego County and throughout Southern California.