Wrong-Way Driver is Cause Behind Fatal Crash on HWY 23
After reviewing the reports of a 74-year-old man who drove the wrong-way on U.S. Highway 23 in Washtenaw County and caused a multi-vehicle crash, we were again saddened but not surprised that the wreck left two people dead and several others injured. The accidents were expected by police as dispatchers had been receiving calls about a wrong-way driver minutes prior. The accident scene was about 35 miles west of Detroit in Northfield Township and took the lives of two Ohio women. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 350 people die every year because of wrong-way drivers who often create fatal head-on collisions that trigger secondary accidents.
Often, wrong-way crashes occur because the driver is confused, distracted, fatigued, intoxicated, or made a bad decision to speed or pass at the wrong time. Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as well as older drivers are the most likely groups to drive the wrong-way on a street, rural road, interstate or highway. These collisions usually happen at night and during the weekends and tend to take place in the lane closest to the median. Driving while impaired by alcohol causes 60 percent of wrong-way driving collisions. In addition, researchers have determined that drivers over the age of 70 really only account for about 15 percent of all wrong-way drivers. These types of accidents should remind all drivers to be alert, never drive under the influence or while distracted, and to always be prepared for the unexpected.
How to Avoid a Crash with a Wrong Way Driver
Wrong-way driver collisions are often deadly because most drivers don’t expect the other vehicle coming or don’t have the time to safely maneuver away from the oncoming vehicle. Drivers may be able to reduce their risk of being hit head-on from the wrong-way vehicle by keeping their eyes fixed on the road ahead and taking time to watch the flow of driving patterns. If you notice a driver drifting toward you, that knowledge can provide the added time needed to move safely out of their way.
In the event of crossing a wrong-way driver, everyone should review these practices from the car accident attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm:
- The first, most basic preventative precaution for any collision is to pay attention and never drive drunk or distracted. If you are fully aware of your surroundings, you may be able to see the driver swerving or driving in your direction.
- Turn on your headlights to bring an oncoming driver’s attention to your presence, even during the day. In an emergency situation, get out of the way and flash your lights to alert the wrong-way driver. That warning may connect with them and cause the vehicle to slow down and pull over.
- Know where you can go and be prepared to drive into the shoulder if a wrong-way driver swerves toward you or your line. Remember that most road shoulders in Michigan are gravel, so you will want to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and move with caution.
- Drive in the right lane in multi-lane traffic areas, and if you are in the left lane, drive as close to the right as is safe. This is particularly true of curvy roads, so you can avoid the driver speeding around the bend toward you.
- Try not to panic or hit the brakes. Braking will only delay the oncoming driver from hitting you and cause even more serious injury if not death. If you brake too fast you may lose control and skid. Instead, so slow down as safely possible. If there is an impact or you collide with an object, this will greatly reduce the damage done and the risk of a fatality caused by a head-on collision.
If you see a wrong-way driver approaching, immediately reduce your speed and pull off the roadway. When safe, don’t delay. Dial 911 immediately to report the driver or any accidents they have caused. Know your location and offer the dispatcher any information about the direction the driver is headed.
Michigan Authorities Have an Opportunity to Prevent Wrong-Way Driving Events
The State of Michigan has been creating strategies to minimize the amount of head-on collisions caused by wrong-way drivers for years, including testing wrong-way early alert technology in vehicles on Michigan roads, but most of the current strategies authorities use to stop a wrong-way vehicle are reactive and involve a high degree of risk that puts law enforcement officers and other motorists in jeopardy.
The National Transportation Safety Board suggests that based on state sign inventory results and investigative examples, controlled-access highway exit ramp signs in some locations are not sized and placed in compliance with the current Federal Highway Administration Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. To reduce wrong-way errors, traffic control devices should be “designed to make exit ramps readily distinguishable from entrance ramps; to some extent, this can be achieved by addressing signage, roadway marking, and roadway lighting.”
This means there are still several opportunities to improve roads that could keep Michigan motorists and their passengers safe from wrong-way drivers.
Detroit, Michigan Car Accident Attorneys – You Pay Nothing Until We Settle
If you or someone you know has been injured in a wrong-way driver crash or any other kind of motor vehicle accident in Michigan, know that the Lee Steinberg Law Firm can help.
Regardless of the cause of any accident, victims of motor vehicle wrecks are entitled to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, also known as first-party benefits, under the Michigan No-Fault Law. These benefits cover reasonably necessary medical expenses related to the accident, up to three years of lost wages, replacement services (to cover household chores or childcare the victim can no longer complete), attendant care such as in-home nursing, medical mileage, out-of-pocket medical costs, and vehicle and/or home modifications.
Please call Lee Free and speak to our car accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your car accident case.