Preventing Wrong Way Crashes in Texas
Everyone knows that wrong-way drivers are bad news. Crashes resulting from wrong-way drivers are more likely to cause serious injuries and fatalities than other types of car accidents.
People driving on the wrong side of the road are usually driving while impaired and these crashes tend to occur at night when it is darkest. Drivers going the wrong way are especially common in large cities like Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas, as well as Austin, with its many one-way roads and high traffic volume.
What can be done to prevent wrong-way driving from happening so frequently? This article will explore some of the efforts underway to gather better information and deploy appropriate technology to address the problem
Efforts to Prevent Wrong-Way Accidents
Researchers at the Federal Highway Administration estimate that 350 people are killed each year In the United States in crashes resulting from wrong way drivers. In Texas, according to Texas DOT records, 956 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in 2009. This means that 30 percent of all traffic fatalities In Texas involved a drunk driver.
Currently, some ramps have sensors, called loops, imbedded in the asphalt which alert a command center when a vehicle passes over them in the wrong direction. Although they don’t prevent drivers from going the wrong way, the sensors allow authorities to track the drivers on cameras and relay important information to law enforcement immediately.
Use of Shorter Signs
Researchers have found that impaired drivers tend to focus on the road directly in front of their vehicle, making them more susceptible to missing traffic signs. This conclusion has lead to the proposal of shorter “Do Not Enter” signs that could be mounted beneath the existing traffic signs.
Texas DOT is awaiting approval from the federal government to use these signs in North Texas as a trial before installing them in larger cities. This tactic has been successful in other, states, particularly California.
Exit Ramp Configuration
Texas DOT and the Texas Transportation Institute teamed up to conduct an analysis of four years of traffic crashes to better understand why drivers end up on the wrong side of the road and ways to prevent it in the future.
Their report found that wrong way crashes are often linked to left side freeway exit ramps. They recommend that these ramps be avoided in future building plans and that existing left side ramps be outfitted with reflective pavement arrows pointing in the correct direction of traffic flow.
And then there is the wider problem of impaired driving. People who intoxicated are more likely to end up on the wrong side of the road than those who are not.
No matter how a wrong-way driver ended up there, however, a person injured by another’s negligence has the right to pursue compensation. Talk to an Austin car accident lawyer about your legal options.