You Can Prevent Some Wrong-Way Crashes: Don't Drink and Drive

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle describes efforts made by the Houston Police Department to educate people about wrong-way driving accidents. Although such car accidents are relatively infrequent, they often result in catastrophic injury or death when they do occur. This is especially true on freeways and ramps, where speeds are likely to be much higher than on city streets.

Learn About This Type of Vehicle Crash - Sobering Facts

The article presents some statistics about wrong-way driving accidents, including:

  • Most occur on freeways in the lane closest to the median.
  • Wrong way crashes are more likely to happen in the early morning hours. Most accidents of this type happen between 2 AM and 3 AM in Texas.
  • Wrong way accidents are most likely to occur on the weekend.
  • The Houston Police Department respond to two to 10 reports of wrong way drivers each month.
  • Most incidents of wrong way driving do not result in crashes.
  • Most wrong-way drivers have a poor driving history. Wrong way drivers involved in accidents have a higher frequency of DWI convictions within the three years before the accident, more traffic violations, and more crashes.
  • Nationally, around 360 people die in wrong-way accidents every year.

It's Not Academic: Several Fatal Wrong Way Crashes in the Past Year

Stories about wrong-way driving accidents have appeared in the Houston news recently. Last Friday, a wrong way driver who killed one person and injured nine others was charged with intoxication manslaughter. That crash occurred on April 11. Last December, a student at Texas Southern University was killed when his car was hit by a wrong-way driver who was found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) three times the legal limit. The crash occurred on I-10 near Baytown. Last June, another wrong way crash caused by a driver with almost three times the legal BAC killed five people. The driver was charged with five counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault.

Preventing Wrong-Way Accidents

The theme running through these stories is drunk driving, or DWI. In addition to not drinking and driving, you can prevent such tragic accidents by following these tips from the HPD:

  • Stay alert.
  • Stay in the right lane, as most wrong way drivers travel in the lane closest to the median.
  • If you see a wrong-way driver, pull over and call 911. Be sure you are out of the way of traffic.
  • Do not follow a wrong-way driver. He or she may try to turn around, putting you in danger.
  • Be aware of the reflectors on the road. If they are red, you are going the wrong way.

The Houston PD also urges families to have conversations about drunk driving, as too many people believe they can consume a small amount of alcohol and still be safe. Although the accidents described here involved people with high levels of blood alcohol, even small amounts of alcohol can result in accidents. The best way to prevent any type of car crash, including those caused by wrong way drivers, is to not drink and drive, said the Harris County sheriff.

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