In 2016, Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that around 2,600 accidents that occurred here in the state resulted from wrong-way drivers, and at least 56 of them involved fatalities. Please note that those numbers only include Florida, not the nation. More people realize their error and quickly turn around, while others don't crash, but do receive traffic tickets for their error.
It may surprise you to know who causes many of these crashes. Here's a hint -- it isn't the elderly, people with medical conditions or even drunk drivers. Instead, young, healthy drivers and unimpaired drivers are the culprits. Now that all of your perceptions about wrong-way accidents have been shattered, let's explore the topic a bit more below.
Below are some of the statistics regarding the drivers who travel the wrong-way:
- Around 4 percent fell asleep at the wheel.
- Around 1 percent fell ill behind the wheel.
- Around 1 percent suffered a seizure, blackout or epilepsy.
- Around 25 percent ranged in age from late teens into their 20s.
- Around 7 percent were over the age of 80.
- Around 14 percent appeared to involve drugs or alcohol.
- Around 65 percent involved drivers of normal health without any impairments.
- Around 13 percent of crashes occur in parking lots of retail establishments and restaurants.
- Around 80 percent occur in normal weather.
In addition, around 75 percent of the crashes occurred on local, county and state surface streets and not on interstates or toll roads.
A pilot program
Approximately 35 of the exit ramps on the Central Florida Expressway toll road have a wrong-way detection system installed. The system flashes lights at a wrong-way driver in an attempt to get the driver to realize the mistake and turn around before it's too late. If the driver does not stop, the system sends a warning and photograph of the vehicle to Florida Highway Patrol supervisors and dispatchers. Troopers can, hopefully, intercept a wrong-way driver before any damage occurs.
As well intentioned as the program is, it has one major flaw -- few wrong-way crashes occur on toll roads and interstates as mentioned above.
What to do
One piece of advice that may prevent crashes is for drivers to remain on the right side of the road, especially at night. Most people driving the wrong-way drive in your left lane. If that isn't enough to keep you from suffering injuries or losing a loved one in a head-on collision cause by a wrong-way driver, then you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your financial losses, which may help with both current and future medical and other needs you may have as a result of the crash.