As some Pennsylvania residents might already know, wrong-way crashes are often fatal. The National Traffic Safety Board has undertaken several major investigations due to the severity of such accidents. In many cases, the NTSB found that alcohol impairment was involved.
For the purposes of their investigation, the advisory board sought to understand accidents caused by drivers moving into the oncoming traffic lane on a divided highway. Highways involved in the study were those with access through a series of on- and off-ramps. Although wrong-way driving crashes occur on roads divided with a median, such crossover accidents were not included in the study.
NTSB data shows that a head-on collision accidents show a trend toward higher fatality rates than other types of crashes. Several geographic specific studies demonstrate the severity of wrong-way crashes. In Virginia, a comprehensive study showed that the fatality rate was 27 times greater when wrong-way driving was involved. A 2012 study in Michigan indicated a 22 percent fatality for wrong-way accidents. By comparison, 0.30 percent of other crashes were fatal. The wide disparity in fatal outcomes signifies the need to decrease the number of incidents caused by wrong-way drivers.
Wrong-way car accidents are often associated with drunk driving. NTSB reports found that drunk driving was a serious safety problem in the United States, and this was the focus of a 1984 study. The NTSB, in a 1990 study, issued recommendations on standardizing toxicology collection practices to formulate better study parameters.
Drivers who enter a road going the wrong way may cause serious or fatal accidents. When someone is involved in a wrong-way accident, speaking to an attorney may be beneficial. After reviewing the accident to determine fault, the attorney may provide assistance in filing a lawsuit to recover damages due to medical care and lost wages.