Traffic accidents can come from all sides, but those that are head-on may be the most frightening.
It can be hard for our brains to process something that is suddenly in
front of us and completely out of the ordinary. How did that vehicle get
on the wrong side of the road? Which way should I swerve? Did I miss something
– am I the one on the wrong side?
A highway special investigation report by the National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) reveals that each year there are more than 350 deaths, on average, due
to wrong-way collisions. When two cars traveling in opposite directions
crash into each other, the results can be catastrophic. These types of
wrecks involve drivers and passengers being thrown forward – into
the airbag if belted and into the windshield if not. The deploying of
airbags can cause injuries, as can the restraining force of seatbelts.
Eye injuries, head injuries, bruises, fractures, punctured lungs and hematomas
Unbelievably, one of the latest local wrong-way crashes was on purpose.
A suicidal Miami Beach man who posted on his Facebook account that he was depressed and wanted to
take his own life by driving the wrong way, did just that. He deliberately
drove north in the southbound lanes of the Florida Turnpike and crashed
into a tractor-trailer south of Griffin Road. There have been many other
recent wrong-way crashes throughout South Florida:
In December, 2015, a California driver
traveled the wrong way on I-95 near Miami Gardens Drive and crashed into a car carrying a family
of four. All five people involved in the wreck were killed.
In November, 2015,
a woman was killed after she drove the wrong way along Coral Ridge Drive in Coral Springs
and plowed into a taxi.
In September, 2015,
two sisters died when a driver slammed into them going the wrong way on I-95 in Martin
County. That month also saw a
wrong-way driver killed on impact during a collision on the Sawgrass Expressway and
four people killed in a wrong-way wreck along U.S. 27 in western Broward County.
Wrong-way driving may be due to driver distraction, insufficient signs
and confusing road markings. However, the No. 1 cause of wrong-way crashes
is driving while impaired. According to
a study by the Florida Department of Transportation, alcohol and/or drugs were involved in 45 percent of the 280 wrong-way
crashes that occurred on Florida’s highways between 2009 and 2013.
This is more than 16 times the alcohol and/or drug involvement proportion
for overall freeway and expressway crashes in Florida. The study also
discovered that the majority of wrong-way crashes occur on weekends in
dark conditions. A report by
the National Transportation Safety Board agrees -- 78 percent of fatal wrong-way collisions occurred between 6:00
p.m. and 6:00 a.m., perhaps due to reduced visibility, increased tiredness
and higher probability of intoxication.
Sometimes, wrong-way driving happens when an operator makes a U-turn or
cuts across the median into oncoming traffic. However, the majority occur
when a driver mistakenly enters an exit ramp. While changes in traffic
operations take time, suggested solutions currently include better pavement
markings, mounting warning signs closer to the ground (approximately three
feet), using oversized signs, better roadway lighting and installing wrong-way
detection systems at problem interchanges.
The only real defense against wrong-way drivers is to watch ahead, and,
if you are on the highway at night, experts recommend staying in the right
lane since many impaired drivers travel in the left lane (which they perceive
as the right lane). As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest
law firms, Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has been the trusted advocates for
countless traffic collision victims. We are highly experienced in handling
a wide range of auto and truck accident cases, and we know how to assist
families who have lost loved ones in wrong-way accidents. If you wish
to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage
you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-964-8644 or
filling out a case evaluation form.