Sobering Stats on Wrong-Way Crashes

Written By: Jacqueline Policastro
NTSB Wrong Way Report

     Wrong way crashes: They’re High speed – with high consequences. Terrifying – and usually head on. Nearly a quarter of wrong-way driving crashes end in a fatality, according to  National Traffic Safety Board Chairwomanm Deborah Hersman, who says: “We want to try to prevent as many as possible.”

      The NTSB released its first wrong-way driving report in 24 years. It looks at crashes in which drivers entered the highway through an *exit* ramp.  Out of more than 15 hundred wrong-way crashes in a 5 year period, 936 wrong way drivers were driving drunk.  126 of the drivers involved who were going the "right" way were also drunk. 

     Most of these impaired drivers are first time but serious offenders with blood alcohol levels nearly double the legal limit, so the NTSB is calling on the auto industry to install Driver Alcohol Detection Systems which Hersman describes as “vehicles that can sense if you’re impaired by just putting your hands on the steering wheel, or through the air, they have sensors to determine through your breath whether or not you’re impaired.  This would address this issue for everyone.”

     For the drivers who get caught driving drunk the chairwoman wants all states to mandate ignition interlock devices.

     The NTSB discovered factors other than just drunk driving: Older drivers are more likely to be involved in a wrong way crash, and nearly 8 in 10 crashes happened between the hours of 6 p-m and 6 a-m.  Hersman says the NTSB is targeting ways to help older drivers and nighttime drivers. “Not just one wrong-way sign, but multiple wrong-way signs on a pole, they put them down lower, they have more of them, spaced at more frequent intervals.”

     Last year, we told you how several car companies are installing technology that alerts drivers when another car is approaching.  But that’s just one piece of the puzzle towards creating a better highway safety system.


Link to NTSB Study and Recommendations: