Wrong-way accidents: more rare, more fatal

If you have been driving for a while, you probably have encountered a variety of hazards on the road. It is likely that you regularly come in contact with aggressive drivers, speeders and plain inattentive drivers. However, one type of hazard that you probably never have experienced is a wrong-way driver. Although this type of dangerous driver is rare, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), car accidents caused by such drivers occur more often than you would think.

According to NTSB statistics, about 360 motorists each year are killed in wrong-way accidents. Most of these deaths occur in high-speed head-on collisions. Additionally, when wrong-way accidents occur, they are more likely to be fatal than other types of car accidents, the NTSB statistics show. While only one percent of conventional car accidents result in a fatality, 20 percent of wrong-way accidents are fatal.

How do wrong-way accidents occur? It can be as simple as a driver crossing the center line on a two-lane road. Additionally, such accidents can occur on divided highways when a driver makes a U-turn while on the highway or enters an exit ramp while going the wrong way.

According to the NTSB, drunk drivers cause the overwhelming majority of wrong-way accidents, unsurprisingly. The agency estimates that drunk drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration of more than twice the legal limit cause about 60 percent of such accidents. Shockingly, about 10 percent of wrong-way accidents are caused by repeat DUI offenders.

Since the overwhelming majority of wrong-way accidents are caused by drunk drivers, the NTSB concluded that cracking down on them would be the best way to reduce accidents. As a result, the agency is considering issuing a recommendation to all states, asking them to require ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders. These devices prevent a drunk driver from operating a motor vehicle, by preventing the engine from starting if it detects a certain level of alcohol on the driver's breath.

A personal injury attorney can help

Although Georgia lawmakers have considered changing the law, ignition interlock devices are currently only required for repeat DUI offenders. A bill that would amend the law to require them for first-time offenders is pending in the legislature, but has recently stalled.

Regardless of whether the legislation passes, those who are injured by negligent drivers, such as wrong-way drivers have legal recourse. Under Georgia law, those injured are entitled to recover damages such as present and future medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one have been injured by a negligent driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your right to compensation.