What can cause wrong-way highway traffic accidents

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Driving on the highway always carries some risk of getting into a car accident. Relatively few highway wrecks that happen in and around Wilson County are caused by wrong-way drivers. But when someone does drive the wrong way on a high-speed road, the results are often tragic.

Recently, a wrong-way car accident on Interstate 40 made national news. Somehow, a vehicle traveling eastbound went through a wire fence separating it from the westbound side and continued heading east on the wrong side. Within moments, it sideswiped a van and a pickup truck before crashing into a fourth vehicle head-on and striking a fifth. One of the vehicles burst into flames, but its driver escaped in time.

The wrong-way driver died at the scene. Two other people, including the person whose vehicle caught fire, were taken to the hospital for treatment, and we don’t know the extent of their injuries. The other two drivers received treatment at the scene, suggesting their injuries were minor.

How do wrong-way car accidents happen?

It is not clear why the driver went through the barrier. Common reasons a driver goes the wrong way on the highway and cause a terrible accident include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Driving at night
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in older drivers

Often, a driver will confuse a highway exit ramp for an entrance and enter the road in the wrong direction. Many times, highways are only separated by a painted centerline. If a driver loses control or is not paying attention, they could easily drift over the lane and not correct their error before it is too late.

In this case, the driver started on the proper side of the road but crashed through a fence separating the lanes. This would seem to require an even higher level of negligence than letting a tire slip over a yellow line.