Common Causes of Wrong Way Auto Accidents

Georgia roadways and interstates are packed with vehicles every day – often times leading to auto accidents of all kinds. Of the many types of crashes, some that are less common but very dangerous are wrong way accidents.

If you’ve ever witnessed another vehicle driving the wrong way, you know how scary it can be. When wrong way accidents do happen, they typically involve head-on collisions and are regularly at high speeds. These types of accidents can happen at night due to roadway confusion, which can be even more difficult to navigate because of less reaction time.

The Federal Highway Administration statistics show that wrong way accidents result in around 300-400 fatalities every year. These numbers represent a small percentage of the overall number of traffic fatalities in the United States every year, but the nature of the high-speed and head-on collisions in wrong way accidents typically make them more severe than other types of crashes.

Atlanta and its metro areas experience a high number of wrong-way crashes every year, most commonly caused by:

  • Intoxicated driving: Many wrong way accidents involve a driver that is under the influence. In such cases, the intoxicated drivers’ reaction time and overall awareness on the road only adds further dangers to the situation.
  • Roadway construction: If you’ve driven in the Atlanta and Cobb County areas, you’ve likely encountered some sort of construction zone. Roadways that are under construction make use of signs to direct drivers temporarily around obstacles, but these signs are not always clear – especially at night and on unfamiliar roads.
  • Medical emergencies: It’s not uncommon for a driver to experience a medical emergency while driving, such as a heart attack or seizure. These types of emergencies can cause unpredictable behavior and confusion while driving.
  • Inexperienced drivers:It can be easy to become overwhelmed with the excitement and overall responsibility of operating a vehicle. This is especially true for new drivers, and experience only comes with time. New drivers are often involved in wrong way accidents due to inexperience and misreading road signs.
  • Drowsy driving: Driving while tired is extremely dangerous and has been shown to contribute to wrong way accidents numerous times. When a driver is not fully alert, it’s easy to miss road signs and enter a roadway the wrong way. Drowsy driving can be just as harmful as intoxicated driving.
  • Distracted driving: Regardless of the form of distraction (handheld devices, fixing controls within the car, other passengers, etc.), not giving the roadway your complete attention can be extremely dangerous. Such distractions make it easy to miss road signs and take away from the overall responsibility of operating a vehicle.

Heavily populated areas, such as metro-Atlanta, often experience a high number of wrong way car accidents. Most often, they occur on freeway exit ramps, roadways with construction and at night. Always be alert when driving to avoid wrong way accidents. It can be easy to overlook a road sign or not pay attention for a split second, resulting in driving down a road the wrong way. When this happens, reaction times must be quick, as it’s a type of incident that most drivers are not prepared to handle.