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NTSB Investigates Wrong-Way Crashes
Wrong-Way Crashes Claim Thousands of Lives
WASHINGTON, DC (WENY) -- They seem to be happening more often in recent years - crashes involving drivers going the WRONG WAY on the highway. These crashes have claimed thousands of lives - young and old. A federal agency is now looking into ways to prevent wrong-way crashes in the future.
In 2009, eight people died, including four children, when Diane Schuler crashed into another car head-on on New York's Taconic State Parkway. She was driving the wrong way. In the three years since, there've been dozens more crashes like it.
Just two months ago, a 69-year-old woman driving the wrong way on I-75 in Ohio crashed into a car carrying five sorority sisters who were heading home for spring break. Three of them and the wrong-way driver were killed. People are asking what more can be done to prevent future tragedies.
"There are a lot of different reasons why people might be doing this," said Deborah Hersman, Chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
She says the agency is working on a report about wrong-way driving right now.
"We're looking at accidents where alcohol might be a factor. We're looking at accidents where distraction might be a factor. The ability to see or read signs, age - a lot of issues might be a factor," Hersman explains.
The NTSB's report isn't due out until December. At that time, the agency will make recommendations, but it would be up to the states or the federal government to implement them.
"I'm not sure that there is a legislative remedy to this…but I would be willing to listen to any ideas," said Senator Bob Casey, (D) Pennsylvania.
In the meantime, Hersman says there are some common sense things drivers can do to avoid going the wrong way. Limit distraction - don't talk on the phone or text while driving, be well-rested, and, you can't say it enough - don't drink and drive.
"It really does require your full attention behind the wheel. Accidents can happen, they can develop in seconds, and it's important to really stay focused," Hersman said.
And there's some interesting news out of the auto industry. The Department of Transportation is working with several car companies to develop vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology that could help avoid crashes.