What causes “wrong-way” accidents to happen?

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Wrong-way accidents, which occur when a vehicle ends up traveling against traffic on a divided highway without realizing they’re going the wrong way – often until they end up in a head-on crash – have risen dramatically in recent years.

How do these kinds of incidents even happen? The whole point of a divided highway is to keep traffic going in both directions without fear of wrong-way drivers. Here are some of the most common underlying causes:


It’s estimated that six out of every 10 wrong-way accidents involve a drunk driver – often one whose blood alcohol content is well above the .08% legal limit. In their heavily inebriated state, it may be easy for a drunk driver to mistake an off-ramp for an on-ramp.

Solo driving

About 87% of wrong-way drivers are alone in their vehicles when they make this kind of mistake, indicating that passengers may help keep drivers from making critical errors that will get them turned around on the road.

Old age

Drivers who are more than 70 years of age are also more likely to be involved in wrong-way accidents than younger drivers. This is true even though that demographic is least inclined to drive very far or very often. It could be age-related cognitive disorders causing the problem, or it could be – since they don’t drive very much – unfamiliarity with the roads leading to confusion, especially at night.

If you were hurt in a wreck with a one-way driver or your loved one was killed, it may be time to find out more about what it takes to hold that party accountable for their actions in civil court.