AAA Warns of Increasing Wrong-Way Traffic Fatalities
Wrong-way car accidents have increased over recent years, according to a new study by AAA
. The study pinpoints the major factors that contribute to wrong-way crashes and warns motorists of this increasing threat.
What the Study Says
Researchers from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed the number of wrong-way crashes and found that 2,008 such fatalities occurred during a recent four-year span, representing an average of 500 deaths per year. This number represents a 34 percent increase from the 375 average number of deaths that occurred in the five-year period leading up to the study period.
Researchers also noted that wrong-way crashes are often fatal car accidents because they usually occur head-on. They urged motorists and lawmakers to take action to change this alarming trend of increases in fatalities in wrong-way crashes that occur each year.
Factors Involved in One Way Crashes
Researchers pointed to a number of common causes of accidents surveyed in the study, including:
- Alcohol impairment – Approximately 60 percent of the wrong-way traffic accidents the researchers identified involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Drivers who had blood alcohol concentrations over the legal limit were much more likely to cause wrong-way crashes than sober drivers.
- Older age – The AAA Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers project pointed out that drivers age 75-79 spend less time driving and drive fewer miles than younger drivers. Yet, they are over-represented in wrong-way crashes.
- Driving without a passenger – 87 percent of wrong-way drivers were alone. Researchers believe that passengers may help alert drivers they are going the wrong way so they can take corrective action before they cause a crash. Drivers may also be more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel if they are alone.
Other factors may contribute to wrong-way crashes that were not part of the AAA study, such as mental or physical health issues. Sadly, some motorists intentionally drive into the path of traffic in a dangerous suicide attempt. Others may intentionally drive the wrong way to attempt to run away from law enforcement or because they are joyriding.
Problems with highway safety may be another cause for wrong-way accidents. Drivers may not see that a road is a one-way or may not have a way to exit a road after they realize they missed a sign.
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