Posted on January 11th, 2022 by Zane Cagle
Wrong-Way Crashes Result in Multiple MO Fatalities
There have been six (6) fatalities in Missouri in the first nine days of 2022 involving three (3) wrong-way motor vehicle collisions. These preventable fatal crashes have resulted in tragic loss of life and serious injuries. Each crash is under investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. While the causes of each of these crashes have not been determined, that does not change the fact that three wrong-way crashes is simply too many. Wrong-way driving usually result in head-on collisions Head-on collisions are the most dangerous types of motor vehicle crashes because it focuses the combined force of both vehicles on the front-seat passengers. Thus, low speed crashes can be catastrophic. High speed head-on crashes are almost always catastrophic, if not fatal.
Boone County, MO: January 3, 2022 on US 63 Highway, four individuals were killed when a 19 year-old driver was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes, striking another vehicle head-on. The 19 year-old wrong-way driver was killed. The other driver, a 29 year-old female was killed as was her 34 year-old male passenger and a 10 year-old female passenger. The crash occurred around 7:30 p.m.
Franklin County, MO: January 5, 2022. A 22 year-old female driver traveled westbound in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 44 resulting in a head-on collision. A 32 year-old St. Clair Woman died at the scene. A 36 year-old male passenger was seriously injured. The wrong-way driver was listed as seriously injured. The crash occurred at approximately 7 p.m.
Buchanan County, MO; January 9, 2022. A 53 year-old Kansas City woman was driving southbound in the northbound lane of Interstate 29. A Freightliner was traveling in the northbound lane of Interstate 29 . The semi truck attempted to avoid the collision but the vehicles still collided resulting in the death of the Kansas City, MO woman. The crash occurred at 12:15 a.m.
Causes of Wrong-Way Crashes
There are a number of factors that contribute to wrong-way collisions on interstates and divided highways, however, the most common cause is intoxication. “Alcohol impairment is, by far, the single most significant factor in the majority of wrong-way crashes”, said Rob Molloy, director of the Office of Highway Safety for the National Transportation Safety Board. Wrong-way crashes on divided highways are most often fatal as they are typically head-on collisions at substantial rates of speed.
In a study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, eight factors were examined in fatal crash study between 2010 to 2014. Six in ten wrong-way crashes involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Other factors included older age and driving without a passenger. The data showed that drivers over 70 years of age are more at risk of wrong-way driving than their younger counterparts. Additionally, the analysis found that nearly 87% of wrong-way drivers were alone, indicating that passengers may alert drivers that they are headed in the wrong direction, preventing dangerous behaviors before a crash occurs. This data was specific to the study of wrong-way fatal crashes across the US.
Series of Safety Recommendations
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in collaboration with the National Transportation Safety Board issued several recommendations to state transportation policy makers:
Adopt countermeasures like alcohol ignition interlocks, devices that prevent a vehicle from stating until the driver provides a breath sample that registers below a preset low limit;
Strengthen high-visibility enforcement deterrence strategies like sobriety checkpoints;
Change laws to help identify medically at-risk older drivers, both physically and cognitively, and provide driver refresher courses for older adults, and;
Install more visible signs and signals that follow national standards and at proper locations.
What Can I Do?
One, never drink and drive. Do not drive if you are impaired whether due to alcohol, medication or drugs. While being unfamiliar with roadways is one of the factors in wrong-way crashes, the three crashes in the last 9 days in Missouri did not involve wrong-way drivers that were from outside the general areas. While we do not know for for a fact that that alcohol impairment was involved in any of the three crashes, there are pending charges in at least one crash. Thus, just don’t drink and drive.
Stay Alert- Stop driving is you become sleepy. We often do not think that we are dangerous just because we are tired. Honestly, many people feel that they are always tired. However, if you are sleepy, it can be extremely dangerous. Drivers who experience sleepiness often miss signals or important roadway cues. Make sure that you are not over tired when taking off for a commute. Sleep deprived drivers often exhibit similar driving behaviors as those driver under the influence.
None of us are completely error-free in our lifetime of driving. If you have ever turned onto a road in the wrong way, you typically recognize it immediately and make corrections such as immediately pulling over or exiting. It is hard to imagine a driver traveling the wrong way on an interstate would continue at full speed. In recent stories of near misses in St. Louis, wrong way drivers continued down the roadway at full speed because they failed to realize they were going the wrong way. When drivers continue in the wrong direction on a divided highway, it is a matter of when the crash occurs, not “if”.
It is really hard to imagine traveling down the interstate and seeing a car coming at you. If you have ever encountered any type of “almost” head-on collision, it is traumatizing. The horror at trying to guess if you should swerve right or left is just too much. Again, if someone is traveling the wrong way and you think they may “swerve”, it is almost impossible to guess which way they may swerve if they were so disoriented as to travel in the wrong direction
Divided highways and interstates are set up to specifically avoid vehicles traveling opposite directions to reduce the likelihood of head-on collisions. In most road scenarios, a driver has to miss arrows and often, travel in an unnatural route to get onto a ramp that is traveling in the opposite direction. But, ultimately, exit and entrance ramps are simply roadways, so those drivers can possibly enter/exit the wrong way. After fatal crashes, road signage must be evaluated for possible future safety features.
Drive Sober and Pay Attention
Whatever the causes or combined causes of the three wrong-way head on collisions in Missouri in the last nine days, the cost is simply too high. The number of seriously injured victims in these three crashes include three minor children and two seriously injured adults. Serious injuries are often life threatening and they are always life-changing.
Dealing With Devastating Head-On Collisions
Usually, those involved in head-on collisions are grievously injured or the family members of the deceased on attempting to put their lives back together. The death or serious injury of a family member is overwhelming at the least. Hiring a lawyer is usually the first step after the initial trauma. Choosing an attorney should not have to be “another thing to deal with”. Instead, an attorney should handle all of the elements of investigations and follow up with any and all insurance companies. You should NOT have to talk to any auto Insurnace companies after such an ordeal. We are always honored when a family selects our law firm and take great pride in being able to take some tasks and worries off of their shoulders.
After serious injury and loss, you have questions. We are available seven (7) days a week. Call us locally (314) 276-1681 or toll free 1 (800) 685-3302