According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Texas is number one in the nation for the highest number of wrong-way crash fatalities. The threat of running into a wrong-way driver is becoming more frequent, as deaths are now skyrocketing from these types of car crashes across the state. A recent study determined that between 2015 and 2018 an average of 77 people died each year in Texas in wrong-way crashes. This is up 29 percent from the previous time period between 2010 and 2014. Why do drivers choose to drive the wrong way on a road and why are wrong way crash accidents so severe? When a driver goes the wrong way down a street and is coming towards you, you may only have seconds to react to avoid being hit head-on in a crash.
Why Does a Driver Choose to Drive the Wrong Way?
Drivers who drive the wrong way on a road typically have not made this choice consciously. There are many risk factors that can contribute to a driver going the wrong way. Some of the most common risk factors for wrong way driving include:
- The driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs
- The driver is older and/or has dementia
- There are no passengers in the vehicle to tell the driver they are going the wrong way
- The driver is unfamiliar with the area
- The driver has night blindness
- The roads lack proper signage
- The driver ignores road signs and traffic laws
- The driver is on the road between midnight and 6:00 am
- The driver chooses to pass a vehicle on a two-lane road when it is not safe
The majority of wrong-way crashes take place when a driver who is impaired does not realize they are driving the wrong way on a roadway. The most common timeframe within which a wrong-way crash takes place is between 2:00 am and 3:00 am. These times correspond directly to when Texas bars close their doors. At least 60 percent of wrong-way accidents in our great state involve at least one impaired driver.
Common Injuries that Occur in Wrong-Way Accidents
Wrong-way crashes, while not as common as other types of car crashes, often cause some of the most severe injuries. Wrong-way crashes are usually head-on collisions that take both drivers by surprise. A head-on collision is a type of car crash that happens when the front ends of two vehicles are hit straight on. They are one of the deadliest types of crashes on the roads today. On top of the common medical trauma sustained in a car accident, severe wrong way crash injuries can and often do result from direct force trauma caused by the sheer force of the impact.
Direct force trauma injuries can include:
- Shoulder joint damage
- Collar bone fracture
- Pierced lungs
- Broken ribs
- Internal organ damage of the kidneys, liver, spleen, diaphragm, and other organs
Many wrong-way crash victims may not realize they have internal injuries after the crash and can walk away thinking they are okay. Internal injuries often take time to fully present themselves, which makes seeking immediate medical treatment essential after a wrong-way crash.
Another factor to take into consideration with wrong-way crashes is the potential for car fires. Head-on vehicle collisions can quickly lead to car fires with explosive consequences. If the car dashboard is damaged and car wiring severed, the resulting sparks could ignite fuel in the area and lead to a car fire. Car fires can quickly increase the risk of death in a car accident. Fires spread quickly from under the hood into the passenger cabin; and, if an accident victim is incapacitated or is trapped in the cabin, they could succumb to smoke inhalation, serious burns, or other injuries.
How Can I Avoid Wrong-Way Crash Accidents?
Debbie Callahan, the continuing education chair for the Texas Professional Drivers Association provided the following tips for avoiding a wrong-way crash accident:
- Focus on defensive driving skills at all times when on the road.
- Focus your gaze up ahead on the road, constantly moving your eyes from the rearview mirror to the side mirrors to spot any potential hazards.
- Put phones away and keep your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock on the steering wheel.
- Properly wear a seatbelt on every drive.
These tips can help drivers have enough time to react if they see a wrong-way driver ahead on the road. Drivers will also be able to stay fully in control of their vehicles and make sudden maneuvers if they have kept their attention on the road ahead.
Weslaco, Texas Wrong Way Car Accident Attorneys
If you have been in a wrong-way car accident, you may be scared, frustrated, and not know what to do. By selecting knowledgeable legal representation, you won’t have to worry as much about your next steps. Contact the South Texas wrong-way car accident lawyers at Ezequiel Reyna, Jr. Law Office today to discuss your case in a free consultation. There is limited time to act following a motor vehicle accident in Texas, so don’t delay.