Does Drunk Driving Lead to Fatal ‘Wrong-Way Driving’?

Fatal wrong way crashes: are they caused by drunk drivers?


Drunk driving is often considered to be one of the worst things a person can do, in part because it puts so many people at risk. While drunk drivers are frequently pilloried for getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is becoming abundantly clear that they aren’t the only problem. Distracted driving, usually the result of texting and driving, is equally deadly, as is fatigued driving. So in addressing the growing problem of fatal ‘wrong way driving’, Michigan authorities are trying to determine who exactly is at fault, and how can they fix it?


According to federal statistics, 360 people die from wrong way crashes every year in the United States. In Michigan, the average seems to be fewer than one per year. So while it may not seem like much when compared to our annual drunk driving death tally, it still amounts to lives lost, and the Michigan Department of Transportation is hoping to figure out how to address the issue to save lives in the future.


Better signs and modified exit ramps


Since July of 2017, MDOT highway engineers have been working to upgrade onramp signs for highways, along with increasing the number of pavement guides. They’re also working to modify the paved approaches to exit ramps that have a history of being misused by wrong way drivers.


Certain exit ramps, specifically the older “partial cloverleaf” style ones where the entrance and the exit signs are right next to each other, are more likely to be misunderstood by a drunk, tired, or distracted driver. These are the ones that MDOT is trying to address first.


The place where this seems to be the biggest issue in the entire state, is the off ramps to Gratiot Avenue from I-94 in Detroit. That became one of the first spots they tackled, installing flexible reflector strips in the hopes of helping drivers determine exactly where they should turn, and upgrading the reflective “wrong way” signs to be brighter and more noticeable.


Accounting for how impaired drivers see the road


They’ve also found that lowering signs helps a lot, as the average impaired driver doesn’t see the road the same way as an alert or sober driver does. In fact, studies have shown that impaired drivers tend to see things as if looking through a cone, which gives a narrower and lower view of the road.


Therefore, signs that are situated higher up are often missed by drunk, tired, or drugged drivers. By placing signs lower down, where more drivers, impaired or otherwise, are likely to see them, the roads are made safer for everyone.


What can you do about wrong way driving?


As a sober driver, Michigan State Police say you should be alert for headlights coming your way while driving. Most wrong way crashes happen after dark, so be on high alert when driving at night. Also, watch the far left lane of the highway, because that’s where most wrong way drivers end up, because they believe they’re in the far right lane, which is where most highway drivers want to be.


As for ensuring that you never become a wrong way driver, the first thing you can do is make sure that you never get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking. Consuming alcohol or drugs before driving can impair your ability to read road signs properly, and can lead to fatal wrong way crashes. Remember that being under the influence of legal drugs while you drive is also illegal. Also, pay attention to all road signs, and avoid doing anything that will distract your attention from the road while you’re behind the wheel. Distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving!


In the event that you make a bad choice, drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or cause a crash that leaves someone injured or dead, immediately call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245 (1 866 7NoJail). Our highly skilled DUI defense attorneys aggressively defend clients against DUI, Drunk Driving, OUI, OWI, and all major felony and misdemeanor criminal charges in Michigan courts. We can help you!


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