What is the main reason that wrong-way accidents occur on interstates?

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2023 | Car Accidents |

Head-on collisions on standard two-lane roads often happen when one driver drifts over the centerline. For example, maybe a driver gets distracted by their phone and only looks up to find that they are about to collide with oncoming traffic. Such accidents also happen at intersections, oftentimes when someone goes out of turn at a four-way stop.

On the interstate, however, head-on collisions are very rare. They should, in theory, never happen. Traffic is almost always be divided by a physical barrier, such as a concrete wall or a median with fences. Since all traffic is going in the same direction, there are still accidents, but they tend to be sideswipes or rear-end accidents.

Unfortunately, there some head-on collisions still occur which happen when drivers go the wrong way down the interstate. Considering that this means that a driver would have to ignore wrong-way signs and potentially drive up an offramp, it seems almost unfathomable. How does this happen?

Most wrong-way drivers are intoxicated

There are cases where people make genuine mistakes. An older driver may get confused because they’re dealing with some level of mental decline. A younger driver may get confused because they don’t have much experience and they’re just not sure how the road system is laid out or which ramp to use.

But in the vast majority of cases, wrong-way drivers on interstates have been drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs. Their judgment is impaired by these substances, and that is the reason that they don’t notice wrong-way signs or the opposing traffic. In some cases, these drivers may be so thoroughly under the influence that they don’t even really understand what they are doing – such as someone who has been drinking so much that they have blacked out, even though they’re still operating their vehicle.

When this happens, the resulting accidents can be catastrophic. The odds of a fatality are very high, in the event that either a single-vehicle or multi-vehicle occurs. This is not a risk that anyone should face, but impairment means that it does happen, and those who have lost loved ones or suffered serious injuries need to know exactly how to seek financial compensation. When wrong-way crashes caused by intoxication or impairment occur, justice demands to be served.