Wrong-way accidents much more fatal than common car accidents
Experienced drivers know what types of dangers that they have to be on the lookout for. Inattentive drivers who weave outside of their lane, tailgaters and the occasional aggressive driver are common encounters. However, even the most experienced driver probably has not encountered a wrong-way driver. It is true that such drivers are a rarity, but according to the National Transportation Safety Board, wrong-way accidents happen more often (and are more deadly) than you may think.
Wrong-way accidents mainly occur when drivers make a U-turn by using an emergency turnaround (often illegally) while on the highway. Additionally, drivers get into scenarios where wrong-way collisions could happen if they enter an exit ramp while going the wrong direction or cross a median.
Since it requires a fair amount of effort or negligence to get in a wrong-way situation, it is not surprising that the majority of wrong-way accidents-60 percent-are caused by drunk drivers with a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit. More surprising is that repeat DUI offenders cause 10 percent of wrong-way crashes.
In addition to drunk drivers, elderly drivers are a significant cause of wrong-way accidents-about 15 percent.
NTSB statistics show that wrong-way drivers kill about 360 motorists every year, most of them killed in head-on collisions at a high rate of speed. NTSB statistics also show that wrong-way accidents are many times more likely to be fatal than other types of car accidents. Twenty percent of wrong-way accidents are fatal, compared with only one percent of all other accidents.
As drunk drivers cause the majority of wrong-way collisions by far, the NTSB has concluded that it could reduce the number of wrong-way accident deaths by encouraging states to toughen their laws on drunk drivers. Consequently, the agency is currently debating whether to recommend that all states pass laws requiring ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders. These devices work by preventing the vehicle from being operated if the driver provides a breath sample above a pre-set limit.
Consult an attorney
In Tennessee, although first-time DUI offenders are not required to install an ignition interlock device, an offender can request the court to order one installed. Doing so allows the offender to get a restricted drivers license, allowing him or her to continue driving with certain limitations.
It is unclear at this point whether the Tennessee legislature intends to change the law to make ignition interlock devices mandatory for first-time offenders. However, regardless of what the legislature does, wrong-way drivers can be held civilly accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk or negligent driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your right to recover compensation.