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How do wrong-way car accidents happen?

Of all the ways auto accidents can happen on the highway, collisions with wrong-way drivers are the deadliest. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), wrong-way crashes are by far the most likely to cause fatal and severe injuries. The head-on force of two or more vehicles driving at highway speeds can be violent and life-threatening.

To those of us who are responsible drivers, it can seem almost impossible to enter a highway or interstate through the off-ramp accidentally. What causes people to make what seems like an obvious, easily avoided, and potentially deadly mistake?

The FHWA says three things are the most common factors leading to wrong-way collisions:

  • Drunk driving is a factor in many, if not most, wrong-way crashes. Many such crashes occur on weekends, when drinking and driving tends to happen more frequently.
  • Both drivers over 70 and under 25 are overrepresented in the crash data. This suggests that driver inexperience and the effects of aging can each be factors.
  • Most wrong-way accidents happen at night. In some cases, dark roads and hard-to-read signs could confuse drivers into mistaking an offramp for an onramp.

Of course, many wrong-way car crashes are caused by a combination of two or all three of these risk factors.

Wrong-way driver accident in Tulsa

Recently, a 72-year-old Tulsa man was killed after he crashed into another vehicle while driving east on the westbound side of Interstate 244. The vehicle he hit contained a woman and infant. The impact caused the woman’s vehicle to crash into an 18-wheeler. Fortunately, the woman and infant were expected to be okay. It is not clear how the man ended up going the wrong way on I-244.

The long-term effects of a wrong-way collision

Survivors of a wrong-way car accident likely will have to deal with months of medical treatment and rehabilitation. They could become permanently disabled. If you are in this situation, or you lost a loved one in a wrong-way collision, you may have the right to full compensation, but your time to act is limited under Oklahoma law. Consult a personal injury attorney to learn how to proceed.


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