You're driving home on a dark highway late one summer night when headlights suddenly blind your line of sight. A wrong-way driver comes speeding toward you. Your heart pumps frantically as you white-knuckle the wheel in pure horror. Surely this can’t be happening.
It can — and it does. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), on average, about 360 people die each year because of wrong-way collisions.
An all too common occurrence on our nation’s highways, wrong-way driving often leads to the most feared traffic accident: the head-on collision. And with the recent spike in wrong-way driving accidents, odds are you or someone you know one day end up in this life-threatening situation.
Hopefully you’ll never encounter a wrong-way driver, but if you do, remember these five helpful tips:
The more time you have to react, the higher the likelihood of avoiding an accident. It's important to scan the highway ahead as far as you can see.
Be extra cautious of wrong-way drivers at night and on weekends. Thirty-one percent of wrong-way collisions occur between midnight and 3 a.m., while 57 percent occur on the weekends.
Move to the right lane as quickly as you can. About 69 percent of fatal wrong-way collisions involve alcohol, and impaired motorists are notorious for driving slowly in the oncoming left lane (their right) to avoid being stopped for speeding. Remember, wrong-way drivers typically think they are going in the right direction.
If you can’t move out of the way and are pinned between road barriers or other motorists, attempt to grab the attention of the wrong-way driver. Honk your horn and flash your lights in hopes they move.
The most deadly type of accident is the head-on collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), ten percent of all roadway fatalities are the result of such collisions. If you are unable to clear the area, turn your vehicle sideways to avoid a head-on collision. Although serious injury is likely, you will improve your odds of survival.
5. Call 911
Never assume someone else has called the police on a wrong-way driver. If you have successfully avoided danger, pull over and immediately call the authorities.
Preventing wrong-way fatalities starts with stopping motorists from driving the wrong way. A dialogue needs to start at the state and local level. What wrong way prevention methods do your local highways use? Learn more about the TAPCO Wrong-Way Driver Detection System.