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The Deadly Truth About Wrong-Way Crashes

Recently, there have been several wrong-way crashes on Interstate 275 in Tampa that have made the news. While it may seem like these types of collisions are frequent, the truth is that wrong-way wrecks are rare. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, wrong-way crashes only account for three percent of accidents on our nation’s roads.

While statistics don’t lie, numbers only tell part of the story. The real story about wrong-way collisions is that they are more likely to result in serious and fatal injuries over other types of highway wrecks. When a wrong-way crash occurs, the outcome is typically a head-on collision that produces catastrophic injuries, such as:

  • Burn injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Amputation injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Fatal injuries

The sad reality of wrong-way accidents is that they are not simply “accidents.” Instead, these types of collisions generally occur because of the following deliberate reasons:

  • Driving impaired or buzzed driving
  • Drugged driving
  • Not thinking straight
  • Suicidal (in the wrong frame of mind)
  • Driving drowsy
  • Driving with poor eyesight

According to authorities, most wrong-way crashes are caused by impaired drivers. “We need to educate people, especially the younger generation, because most crashes are related to alcohol or drugs,” said Pei-Sung Lin of the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida.

Lin told the Tampa Bay Times about a study done by researchers at the University of Illinois-Edwardsville, which showed that alcohol was a factor in about 60 percent of wrong-way collisions between 2004 and 2009. Interestingly, the study found that the majority of these types of wrecks take place between midnight and 5:00 a.m. on the weekends.

Because of the deadly reality of wrong-way crashes on I-275, Florida transportation officials are looking for ways to reduce these types of collisions on our roadways. According to the Department of Transportation Spokesperson Kris Carson, there are two methods being considered to warn drivers about going the wrong way. These include:

  1. A radar will be used to detect when a car is headed in the wrong direction and will trigger flashing signs to warn the driver.
  2. A system would send an immediate message to the Department of Transportation when a vehicle is traveling the wrong way.

State transportation officials are hoping to prevent wrong-way crashes and will study these aforementioned methods to determine how they can best reduce vehicles traveling in the wrong direction. Until then, we urge you to share this article with others on Facebook and Google Plus to make drivers aware of the dangers of wrong-way accidents.