Study Conducted By The National Transportation Safety Board Looks At The Dangers Of Wrong Way Crashes The Their Frequent Occurrence
Wrong way crashes happen in surprisingly large numbers each year including in Ohio. Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published a study examining the dangers of wrong way crashes. According to the NTSB study, about 3 percent of all crashes are caused by wrong way crashes and collisions and are not common on public highways, but are 27 times more likely to result in fatalities than other accident types.
The NTSB wrong way crash study states that between 2004 and 2009 there were 261 fatal wrong way crashes in the United States. 82 percent of these accidents were head-on collisions with one or more vehicle traveling at highway speed. The NTSB found that when vehicles collide in wrong way collisions, they are up to 27 times more likely to result in fatalities and much more likely to cause serious injuries. In total, about 22 percent of all wrong way crashes result in fatalities. This does not sound like a high number until it is compared with the fatality rate of other types of crashes, which is only 0.3 percent. During the study period, the NTSB found that 2,139 people were killed in wrong way crashes, and the study authors only looked at crashes occurring on highways and on/off ramps, not on smaller roads. The number of fatalities is likely significantly higher when country road accidents are also considered.
Ohio drivers are not immune to wrong way driving. In 2014, Ohio drivers were involved in 467 wrong way crashes. Of these, 10 resulted in fatalities and 198 resulted in injuries. These wrong way crashes accounted for 1.1 percent of all traffic accidents in Ohio in 2014. [http://www.publicsafety.ohio.gov/links/2014CrashFacts.pdf]
According to the NTSB, wrong way driving is any movement of a vehicle along a travel lane in any opposing direction to the legal flow of traffic. The study specifically examined wrong way driving on highways and on/off ramps, rather than including any wrong way crashes that occurred from a driver illegally crossing a median or any other types of wrong-way driving. [http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Documents/SIR1201.pdf, June 2015]
60 percent of the wrong way drivers were impaired by alcohol. Among those drunk drivers, nine percent had been convicted of driving while intoxicated within the previous three years. More drivers between the ages of 20 and 29 are likely to be involved in wrong way crashes. Surprisingly, 19 percent of the wrong way drivers lacked proper driving licensure. 78 percent of the crashes occurred between 6PM and 6AM. In addition to a higher likelihood of alcohol impairment during these hours, some wrong way crashes may simply be caused by drivers who are unable to see road signs properly.
According to the NTSB, the best way to prevent wrong way crashes is to drive while sober only, and to avoid driving between the hours of 6PM and 6AM. Crashes may be worse on country roads without a median and public highways than crashes that occur on city roads and on/off ramps. Always remain alert to potential wrong way drivers while driving on any public or private roadway. Defensive driving could help prevent serious injury or death.
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