Fatal Wrong-Way Car Accidents Are On The Rise in NC. Who’s Responsible and What Can Be Done?

There are few scenarios more frightening than driving down a highway at 70 mph and suddenly discovering a car or truck is speeding straight toward you, in the wrong direction, in your path. Unfortunately, wrong-way driving accidents that result in death are on the rise in North Carolina.

North Carolina Sees A Spike In Deadly “Wrong-Way” Crashes 

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that the average number of deaths from wrong-way accidents on divided highways in North Carolina increased by 75% from 2015 to 2018. According to statistics, the number of people killed in wrong-way crashes in the state has increased in recent years. From 2000 to 2017, the NCDOT reported 164 people died in wrong-way accidents, with alcohol or drugs being involved in almost half of them. Between 2000 to 2013, 68 of the 129 wrong-way crashes involved alcohol.

Interventions such as ignition interlock systems for all criminals and high-visibility compliance operations can reduce these forms of collisions. An alcohol ignition interlock system prohibits a vehicle from starting before the driver produces a breath sample below a pre-set low level, normally about 0.02 percent BAC. Members of the North Carolina General Assembly also introduced legislation to modernize the state’s ignition interlock laws. SB 183 was introduced in the Senate a few weeks ago, and HB 402, the House companion bill, was filed shortly after.

Why Do Wrong-Way Accidents Keep Happening?

Wrong-way driving occurs when a car drives against the flow of traffic on a highway. This usually happens when a driver enters the highway through an exit ramp rather than an entrance ramp. Few wrong-way collisions occur on the ramps, but the most severe and fatal wrong-way crashes happen at high speeds on the highway. Since many wrong-way drivers are inebriated or intoxicated, they are more likely to drive in the wrong direction and drive recklessly, causing collisions with cars attempting to avoid them.

Wrong-way collisions are most often caused by drivers due to:

  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Advanced age
  • Distractions
  • Unfamiliar roadways
  • Detours
  • Lack of warning signs
  • Defective auto equipment

Common Injuries Resulting From Wrong-Way Car Accidents

Compared to other types of car accidents, wrong-way crashes are three times more likely to result in a fatality. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), one out of every five wrong-way crashes results in death. This is because two cars colliding head-on normally results in a fatal head-on collision at highway speeds.

Even if the victims survive the collisions, the injuries they suffer often necessitate costly surgery and hospitalization, long-term physical and emotional recovery, and life-long complications that make independent living difficult or impossible.

Common injuries resulting from wrong-way driving collisions include:

  • Head and neck injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal injuries to organs
  • Broken bones

Call Henson Fuerst If You’ve Been Injured in a Wrong-Way Collision in North Carolina

Careless or reckless drivers are often to blame for wrong-way collisions. They usually cause serious injuries to victims on the road, including other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. The accident lawyers at Henson Fuerst are here to assist victims and families in coping with the aftermath of a serious accident. If you have questions about a crash you or a loved one were involved in, contact us by calling 919-781-1107 or by submitting a free consultation form online.