According to Idaho State Police, a 65-year-old woman from Eagle, Idaho made a fatal mistake Thursday night, after driving her car the wrong way on a busy road. She had entered the southbound lanes of Middleton Road at the intersection of Marble Front Road in Caldwell, heading northbound in a 2009 Honda CRV, before being struck by two southbound vehicles.

The wrong-way crash resulted in injured passengers from both oncoming cars. A 49-year-old man was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. While the other driver, a 51-year-old woman, who had not been wearing a seatbelt, sustained serious injuries that necessitated transport by air to a nearby hospital.

Although the elderly wrong-way driver had been wearing a seatbelt, she died at the scene of the crash. Next of kin have been notified and investigators are still working on how this happened.

Wrong-way Driving is Deadliest of Driving Mistakes

Wrong-way driving is defined as any driver who operates their vehicle in the opposite direction of traffic, causing a collision with a vehicle going in the right direction. These crashes are rare, occurring in less than 3% of accidents—but are usually the most deadly and brutal of crashes. Wrong-way collisions are most likely to be head-on crashes with speed and force impacting everyone in the vehicle. Head-on collisions at elevated speeds are known to be the most fatal.

If the accident does not result in death, the injuries are bound to be extremely severe, with long-term residual care and rehabilitation needed. Some of the injuries that occur in wrong-way driving collisions can be any combination of broken bone injuries, whiplash, head injuries, a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, chest, abdomen, and rib compression injuries, and even paralysis.

Causes of Wrong Way Crashes

The Federal Highway Administration outlines the three most common features in wrong-way crashes—drivers that are impaired by alcohol, elderly drivers (particularly those over age 70), and they almost always happens at night (diminished visibility). The majority of their findings show that there is some combination of these 3 common features in most wrong-way crashes.

Driver error is the obvious assignment for the cause of wrong-way accidents. Many roads and highways are one-way and difficult to enter from the wrong direction, while some roads are signed but easily accessible from the wrong direction. Confusion and disorientation are understandable, but still unfortunate and dangerous.

Most likely reasons for going in the wrong direction:

Here are some other common reasons drivers may head in the wrong direction are:

  • Driver is under the influence (DUI)– of drugs (legal prescriptions and/or illegal), prescription medications, harmful substances, as well as alcohol
  • Distracted Driving—cell phones, texting, doing make-up, etc.
  • Unfamiliar with Roadways in the area
  • Poorly marked Ramps or Signs
  • Lack of Visibility (weather-related)
  • Lack of Adequate Signage
  • Visible impairment of Driver
  • Drowsy or tired driver
  • Mental Health Issues in driver
  • Thrill-seeking or a suicidal “Death Wish”

Yet, despite the factors that may result in a wrong-way situation, the most common and leading cause of driver error is the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Driving under the influence is the epitome of negligent behavior.

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Safety Tips to Avoid Wrong-way Collisions

Stay extra alert between the hours of 11pm and 5am, if you are driving. Those are the most dangerous hours to be on the road, but particularly in correlation to drunk driving statistics, the most likely time to be involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Just a few more words of caution here can mean the difference between life and death—STAY RIGHT AT NIGHT. If you are in the right lane, you are the furthest distance between a potential wrong-way driver coming your direction.

Sadly, wrong-way accidents are devastating and almost impossible to avoid for unsuspecting drivers. There is little time to react and consequently the damage is severe, if not, fatal.

Here to Help

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident or a wrong-way collision caused by someone else’s negligence, call Fielding Law Group today. Our team of experienced lawyers fight for the rights of car accident victims and help get the compensation they deserve.  Remember–Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!