How Common Are Wrong Way Driving Accidents?

wrong way driving accident

Every so often, wrong way driving accidents make the news. Often fatal, these head-on collisions can be jarring to read about and even more shocking when they happen to you. Find out how often cars drive the wrong way on divided highways and other one-way roads, along with the consequences of wrong way driving accidents.

Fatal Car Crashes Often Involve a Car Driving the Wrong Way

Between 2015 and 2018, over 2,000 people nationwide died because of a wrong-way driving accident. That number has gone up considerably from previous reports. One earlier estimate put wrong-way drivers at fault for nearly 9% of fatalities on Connecticut interstates. The risk of a wrong-way crash increases when:

  • Alcohol is involved
  • The driver is older
  • There are no passengers in the vehicle to notice the error.

For example, in October 2021, Connecticut interstates saw two fatal wrong-way car crashes in short succession. On October 17, 2021, Connecticut state troopers arrested a man for driving the wrong way on Interstate 91, traveling several miles between North Haven and Wallingford. The wrong-way driver struck two cars and forced another to swerve into a guard rail before he could be stopped, arrested, and taken to a hospital. A few hours later, Cynthia Teran died after she crashed head-on with a pickup truck driving the wrong way on Interstate 95 near Stamford. The two men in the wrong-way vehicle received only minor injuries.

Why are Wrong Way Driving Accidents so Serious?

Driving the wrong way on a divided highway can often result in a severe or even fatal car accident. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Physics
  2. Drunk driving

When a vehicle comes up on traffic going the right way on Connecticut interstates or divided highways, drivers often have little time to react, or options to get out of the way. Because the cars are traveling in opposite directions, physics says the resulting head-on collision has much greater force than when both cars were going the same way in the moments leading up to the crash. When the inertia of the car going the right way is added to the wrong-way vehicle, it is as if the crash happened at a much higher speed. And higher speeds lead to more serious injuries.

In addition, many drivers who make the mistake of driving the wrong-way on a one-way road or the wrong side of a highway do so because they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, 60% of wrong-way crashes involve a drunk driver. Intoxication can reduce a driver’s reaction time and reasoning skills. This makes it more likely that they will make a mistake -- like wrong way driving accidents -- and harder for them to quickly react to an emergency situation -- like headlights heading toward them.

Connecticut Car Accident Laws for Wrong-Way Drivers

Drivers who cause wrong-way car accidents can face a variety of traffic violations and criminal charges, and can be sued by their passengers and the drivers of other vehicles seriously injured in the crash. Most often, wrong-way driving results in charges for:

  • Driving the wrong way
  • Failure to maintain a lane
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • DUI
  • Texting While Driving (distracted driving)
  • Evading Responsibility (in hit-and-run cases)
  • Assault with a Motor Vehicle (in injury accident cases)
  • Manslaughter in the Second Degree with a Motor Vehicle (in fatal accident cases)
  • Misconduct with a Motor Vehicle (resulting in death)
  • Negligent Homicide with a Motor Vehicle (in fatal accident cases)

Some of these charges carry serious criminal consequences including jail time and driver’s license suspension. Conviction in a traffic-related criminal case can also establish that a wrong-way driver was at fault for the accident, which your personal injury attorney can use to prove they should compensate you for your injuries.

Help for Motorists in Wrong-Way Driving Collisions

At The Lebedevitch Law Firm, our criminal defense and personal injury attorneys understand how serious a wrong-way car crash can be. We understand both sides of the Connecticut car accident laws, representing drivers facing traffic violations and criminal charges, as well as families seeking to recover after a serious or fatal car accident. Because we work with both drivers and injured motorists, we can help you prepare your strongest case and anticipate what the other side will say and do in court. No matter who or what caused the crash, we can help. Contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.