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Why are fatal wrong-way crashes increasing in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2021 | Car Accidents, Wrongful Death

Few things are more frightening for drivers than encountering a vehicle going in the wrong direction. Wrong-way drivers are responsible for devastating and often fatal head-on collisions. Unfortunately, the problem seems to be getting worse instead of better in Virginia.

According to the latest data from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 11 people were killed every year in wrong-way collisions between 2015 and 2018. That was a 10% increase over 2010 thru 2014.

Devastating wrong-way crashes have occurred on I-95 in Virginia

Wrong-way crashes are by no means limited to rural roads with only yellow lines dividing traffic going in opposite directions. Earlier this year, three people were fatally injured on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia when a driver trying to evade Virginia State Police drove the wrong way on the express lanes. 

This year, a woman from Petersburg received a 12-year prison sentence for a wrong-way crash last year, also on I-95, that killed two people. Her blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time was 2.5 times the legal limit.

The most common factors in wrong-way driving

Alcohol is the leading cause of wrong-way crashes. In fact, 60% of wrong-way crashes involve a drunk driver. Of course, any kind of impairment, whether by alcohol or drugs, is a significant factor.

Also high on the list of those responsible for these crashes are older drivers. The AAA Foundation has found that people over 70 years of age (especially those 75-79 years of age) are at greater risk of being in a wrong-way crash than younger drivers.

Another big factor is whether someone is driving alone or has at least one passenger. Almost 87% of wrong-way drivers were alone in their vehicles. It makes sense that having someone in the vehicle who can notice that the driver is going the wrong way and alert them would help prevent a crash.

Fortunately, wrong-way drivers aren’t running rampant on our roads and interstates. However, it only takes an encounter with one to leave you dealing with catastrophic injuries. Regardless of any criminal charges the driver faces, you have a right to seek compensation for your expenses and damages.