Every year in the U.S., wrong-way accidents kill 300 to 400 people on average. Wrong-way accidents are particularly devastating collisions. A vehicle traveling in the wrong direction on a road or highway can cause a head-on collision – one of the deadliest types of car accidents. In a head-on collision, the vehicles collide at a speed that combines the speeds of the two vehicles. That means if two cars crash traveling 50 miles per hour each, the speed of the accident is 100 miles per hour. Physical injuries in wrong-way accidents can be catastrophic or fatal.
Do Not Drive Drowsy, Drunk, or Distracted
Never drink and drive. Most fatal wrong-way accidents involve drunk drivers. Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol often experience blurred vision, poor judgment, and slow reaction times which can all contribute to driving the wrong way. On top of entering the highway the wrong way or turning down a one-way street, a drunk driver is more likely to speed. The combination of speeding and driving the wrong way can be deadly.
Driving drowsy is also a potential cause of wrong-way accidents. A drowsy driver may not be able to scan his or her surroundings or read roadway signs in time to prevent a wrong-way accident. Always get ample sleep before a late-night or long drive. Finally, do not drive distracted. Distracted drivers can easily miss wrong-way or do not enter signs. Save your text messages, meals, and conversations for somewhere else – not behind the wheel.
Pay Attention to Roadway Signs
One-way roads in Alabama almost always have signs warning drivers. These include white one-way signs, red do not enter signs, and red wrong-way signs. It is your job as a driver to look for and obey roadway signs when you drive. Failure to notice roadway signs, or intentionally ignoring a wrong-way sign, could result in a vehicle collision. Keep your eyes on the road 100% of the time to maximize your odds of spotting a sign that warns you that you are going in the wrong direction.
Aside from wrong-way signs, Alabama interstate ramps may use different colored reflectors to differentiate the on-ramp from the off-ramp. You might be entering a ramp in the wrong direction if the reflectors gleam red instead of white. Pay attention to your surroundings to make sure you are not missing important warning signs, especially when entering an unfamiliar interstate in Alabama.
Do Not Drive in Unfamiliar Places at Night
Although wrong-way accidents can happen any time of day, they are more common at night, when drivers are less likely to see warning signs and physical barriers. Lack of visibility can be a major factor in wrong-way collisions. If you are traveling somewhere you have never been before, try to avoid driving at night. You may end up traveling the wrong way on an unfamiliar road, or reentering the highway from the incorrect ramp if you cannot see the warning signs. Wait for daytime to continue your trip, when you will not be drowsy or suffer from poor visibility.
Complain About Unsafe Roadway Infrastructures
Oftentimes, wrong-way accidents occur due to confusing and unsafe roadway infrastructure. Confusing diamond-shaped interchanges, poorly placed signs, unsafe interstate ramp design, and unmarked ramps can all contribute to wrong-way collisions. In these situations, the city could be liable for damages for failing to design safe and effective roadways that prevent wrong-way drivers.
If you notice an interchange in your area that appears particularly confusing or easy to drive the wrong way on, call your local traffic authorities and file a complaint. The city may remedy the problem if enough people complain. Filing a complaint can also establish a record that the city knew or reasonably should have known of the danger. That way, a victim may be able to hold the city responsible for a subsequent wrong-way accident in that location.